In a statement released by the Prime Ministry Press Office to mark the start of the new judicial year yesterday, Erdoğan said Turkey, a democratic, secular and social welfare state operating under the rule of law, can only move further with an independent judiciary. The message was sent to Supreme Court of Appeals First President Hasan Gerçeker to mark the start of the 2010-2011 judicial year. Erdoğan said in his message that judicial mechanisms adhering to the principles of the supremacy of law and impartiality, working swiftly and in harmony to resolve conflicts, would also increase confidence in justice.
He said the judicial system with its judges, prosecutors, lawyers and other legal professionals is making efforts to serve this purpose. “We as the government attach great importance to holistic approaches to problems in our judicial system.”
Gerçeker also delivered a speech yesterday at the ceremony in the Supreme Court of Appeals building. President Abdullah Gül was in attendance. Erdoğan, who had sent his message earlier, was not present. Constitutional Court President Haşim Kılıç, Council of State President Mustafa Birden, State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya and members of the high courts as well as military courts and various other bureaucrats attended the ceremony.
In his speech, Gerçeker criticized the constitutional amendment package slated for a vote on Sept. 12, saying the changes it introduces to the Constitutional Court’s structure will work to politicize the high judiciary. He also emphasized that problems within the judiciary that he had previously touched upon remain, and that most of them have been exacerbated. One of his most fundamental duties, he said, was to share these with the public and look for solutions.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also sent a message to Gerçeker, congratulating him on the first day of the judicial year.
“Justice is important in that is assures a society’s future. A country that cannot work its judicial mechanisms justly will not last long. This has been witnessed many times in the past,” he said.
Gerçeker then said that the Turkish judiciary did not have a problem of democratic legitimacy. Criticizing the existence of the justice minister and his undersecretary as natural members on the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), Gerçeker said: “Explaining their participation in the council with the ‘democratic legitimacy’ argument is not honest. The Turkish judiciary has no problems with democratic legitimacy.” He said a wide segment of society criticizes the inclusion of the justice minister and his top bureaucrat in the council.