Thousands of Turkish people march to the offices of Armenian newspaper Agos during a commemoration ceremony for slain journalist Hrant Dink, in Istanbul, yesterday. Riot police were out in force as large crowds massed in Istanbul to demand justice for the prominent Turkish Armenian journalist murdered seven years ago.
ADANA, Turkey: Turkey’s foreign minister said yesterday the country was ready to discuss all issues with the European Union at high-profile talks this week, including a row over judicial independence that has escalated the crisis engulfing the government.
The controversy over Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bid to increase his control over Turkey’s top judicial oversight body, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), has dealt a new blow to the country’s long-held goal of EU membership just as Erdogan prepares for a crunch day of talks in Brussels tomorrow.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the judiciary issue and all others were on the table in the EU talks, but defended the embattled Erdogan government’s response to the corruption scandal that sparked the current political crisis.
“We are ready to discuss everything, including the HSYK,” said Davutoglu, who is due to accompany Erdogan on his trip. “If there is anything that stands contradictory to EU standards, we will listen to this.”
In the wake of a December anti-corruption probe that has ensnared some of Erdogan’s key allies, his government has taken a series of retaliatory measures, including a mass purge of police and prosecutors, and has sought to curb the powers of the HSYK.
The government’s purge has extended to banking and telecoms oversight bodies as well as state television. Local media reported Saturday that three high-ranking officials with top banking watchdog the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) had been removed from their posts.
Five department chiefs from the Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) regulatory body have also been fired, as well as a dozen people at Turkey’s state television channel, TRT, including senior news editors and department heads, the reports said.
Erdogan accuses supporters of Fethullah Gulen, an influential Muslim cleric who lives in the United States, of waging a “coup plot” in the run-up to elections this year.AFP