While the US reaffirmed its confidence in Turkish democracy, European leaders said the top court's decision was in line with EU standards and called for an immediate return Turkey's reform process. EU leaders also urged Turkey to adopt a new civil democratic constitution as part of its preparations to become a member of the 27-nation bloc.
The US State Department said the US would continue to work with the Turkish government. State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack said in response to a question about the verdict at a daily press briefing: "I would just repeat what we've said all along: that we have confidence in Turkey and confidence in the Turkish people and their democracy. … The court has rendered an opinion and we're going to continue to work with this government. We work quite well with them."
"And we would also encourage Turkey to use this moment to reinvigorate its efforts with the EU. And I know that requires both sides," McCormack added.
France, which is currently holding the rotating presidency of the EU, said on Thursday that it looked favorably on the Constitutional Court's decision. In a written statement, France said the EU invited all political actors to resolve their differences in a spirit of dialogue and compromise by respecting the rule of law and fundamental freedoms. The EU will continue paying attention to the situation in Turkey, the statement said.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband summed up the prevailing sense of relief in a statement, saying: "The decision by the Constitutional Court in Turkey is a cause for celebration for Turkey's friends. The fact the Court chose not to close the AKP means Turkey can follow a more democratic and European path."
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was relieved by the court's decision: "What is important now is to get the contributions of all decision makers in Turkey to political stability and reconciliation and keep going on the reform process with determination." He also said Turkey needed to strengthen its democratic institutions through constitutional reform and to bring its Political Parties Law in line with European standards.
European Parliament Liberal Democrat Group Chairman Graham Watson said: "This is great news. This is the best evidence that Turkey is on the way to modern democracy. At the same time, it refutes the claim by the Christian Democrats that 'there is no place for Turkey in Europe.' I hope this decision accelerates negotiations with Turkey. We all expect the AK Party to speed up the reform process."
EU Member of Parliament and rapporteur for women's rights in Turkey Emine Bozkurt said: "I'm so happy. This is an important day for people who voted for the AK Party and for those who did not, as well. The AK Party needs to fast-track its reform process. The first task it needs to do is to initiate a democratic constitution package and solve the party closure issue once and for all so that we do not face same problems in the future."
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) President Luís Maria de Puig said PACE members were happy with the decision." She noted however that the cut of treasury aid to the party in half has discriminatory element. Turkey can once more gain political stability and start to implement reforms beginning with the civil constitution and urgent political and economic reforms.
Alexander Count Lamsdorff, a member of the European Parliament, said the court's decision had prevented a deepening of the crisis in Turkey. He described the decision as "surprisingly good news" and said, "This prevented the suspension or termination of accession negotiations." He stressed the vote tally at the court ruling indicated that the tension is still unresolved, adding, "We have concerns over the maturity of Turkish democracy." "If the party was closed down, this would have been against EU standards," he explained.
The European Union's enlargement chief urged Turkey to make up for wasted time by pressing ahead with reforms now that the country's highest court has decided not to ban the ruling party. Olli Rehn told Reuters the court ruling showed the influence of European values in the candidate country. "Despite everything, this is a good day for Turkey and for Europe," he said in a telephone interview after the Constitutional Court imposed only financial penalties on the party led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
"There is a vast majority among the Turkish people who are in favor of European values. I'm sure this played a role, as stated by the president of the Turkish constitutional court," Rehn said. He urged Erdoğan's government to resume social and economic reforms with renewed vigor to meet EU standards after what he called "wasted time for reforms" due to political uncertainty in the last two years. "Now it is time to get back to normal and re-energize the reforms with a broad consensus based on dialogue with all sections of Turkish society," Rehn said.
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyianni said in a written statement, "The ruling of Turkey's Constitutional Court put an end, in essence, to a period of uncertainty and instability in Turkey's political life."
Bakoyianni said that Erdoğan's government could now move ahead with the adoption and implementation of reforms and adjustments required to mark progress on its accession course to the EU.
Speaking to reporters in Turkey's northwestern province of Yalova, Joost Lagendijk, co-chairman of the Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee, said Turkey's top court's ruling not to close down AK Party was quite a relieving development. The decision had a great importance with respect to Turkey's democratization process and the closure of a governing party would not have been a democratic decision, Lagendijk said, adding that the AK Party should draw lessons from the Constitutional Court's decision.
He said the party should be aware of the need for a new constitution and that it should carry on with the EU reform process. Most importantly, it should pay more attention to those who had concerns regarding secularism in Turkey, he said. Lagendijk added that the court's decision was important in terms of Turkey's relations with the EU, as well.
If the Constitutional Court had ruled to close down AK Party, such a development would have complicated Turkey's EU process, he said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Prime Minister Erdoğan on Thursday that she felt relieved upon hearing the Constitutional Court's ruling not to close down the AK Party, said Ulrich Wilhelm, spokesperson for the German government. Meanwhile, Jurgen Trittin and Rainder Steenblock from the German Green Party stated that they were quite pleased with the court's decision. The closure of AK Party could have created a serious crisis and political paralysis in Turkey, the German politicians noted.