Asked to veto HSYK law by Brussels, Gül responds with Internet law

Responding to the plea of Helene Flautre, chair of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, not to sign the law on the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), President Abdullah Gül has chosen to explain how he improved a law dealing with Internet use that was recently amended by Parliament.
In a letter written by Gül’s spokesperson, the president explained in length what he had done to ameliorate the Internet law, instead of responding to the European Parliament’s (EP) request to veto the law on the HSYK. The letter sent by his spokesperson, dated March 11, does not refer to the HSYK at all.  

Both laws signed by President Gül have been strongly criticized by EU institutions. These institutions have made clear their disappointment with Gül’s approval of the laws, who had previously portrayed himself as a champion of freedoms and the EU accession process.

Flautre, a French Green member of the EP, had written an open letter to Gül on Feb. 19 asking him not to sign the draft law on the HSYK, as it would endanger democratic institutions in Turkey. “Thus I urge you, Mr. President, not to endanger Turkey’s European process and not to approve the HSYK law that has been proposed. Through your person, I call on all political forces in Turkey to work for democracy, which is in the interest of Turkish people as well as Europeans,” she wrote.

Instead of responding about his actions on the HSYK law, Gül chose to explain his efforts to amend the Internet law. “Many understandably demanded from Mr. President to veto the law. The President had the power to have done so. However, had the President sent back the bill, he would not have the authority to veto it for a second time, according to our constitution, in case the government had sent it back without a change — which was a very strong probability within the current climate,” said Gül’s spokesperson. Gül argued in the letter that he still strongly supported the democratization of Turkey, though he avoided any words on the HSYK.  

Speaking to Today’s Zaman, a Greens spokesperson said the party was happy that Gül had responded to their letter but also disappointed not to hear anything on the HSYK. Despite assurances from Gül, the Greens said the perception that Turkey is now heading towards the league of North Korea and Iran in terms of Internet freedoms had been strengthened. They also added that Gül’s interventions, though positive, had not changed the spirit or letter of the Internet law, which basically hinders Internet freedoms.



About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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