The commissioner also believes the Halki Seminary will be opened before the end of 2009, which effectively means in the next five months. The reopening of the Halki Seminary has been, like the limits to military tribunals' authority, a key request of the European Union.
Speaking to European Desk, a bi-weekly program on STVHaber, Hammarberg made it clear that the role of military tribunals should be reduced to an “absolute minimum” and strongly supported the law to limit military jurisdiction in peace time.
On the disputes in Turkey about military-civilian relations, Hammarberg said: “The experience we have in Europe, when it comes to the justice system, the military part of that should be reduced to an absolute minimum to only deal with crimes which have been committed in a military context by the military. I have followed the debates in Turkey and I understand that the attempt to reduce the role of military tribunals is in line with our human rights perspective. There should be a movement towards limiting the role of the military judiciary. Cases which were earlier handled in the military justice system should be actually handled within the civilian justice system now. That move, I think, which is going on now is something which we would support and applaud.”
Seminary to reopen before 2010
In a six-day visit to Turkey, during which Hammarberg was received by President Abdullah Gül and met with Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin and chief EU negotiator Egemen Bağış, the human rights commissioner also raised the controversial issue of reopening the Halki Seminary. Asked whether he had the impression that the school would be opened soon, Hammarberg said: “Yes, clearly. There is no firm decision taken yet, but the way we discussed this matter clearly indicated that there is openness now. Hopefully the majority of the population will accept this to be the right way to go ahead. It will be decided before Istanbul assumes the title of Cultural Capital of Europe in 2010. My guess would be before the end of 2009 […].”