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.