CHP rejects calls to attend judicial ceremony at Erdoğan’s palace

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Selin Sayek Böke

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Wednesday declined calls by Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ for CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to attend a ceremony to open the new judicial year to be held at the presidential palace in Ankara on Sept. 1.

“We will not be part of any step that casts a shadow over the separation of powers,” said CHP spokesperson Selin Sayek Böke during a press conference.
Opposition MHP leader Bahçeli said on Monday that he would be in attendance at the ceremony.

“I do not understand why main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu does not want to attend the ceremony at Beştepe [the presidential palace],” said Bahçeli while speaking to media at MHP headquarters in Ankara.

“It is understood that while the CHP supports Turkey, Mr. Bahçeli prefers to support the Erdoğan regime.” said Böke in reaction to Bahçeli.

“Our basic responsibility is not to support the palace [Erdoğan] regime but to defend judicial independence. As the CHP, we will determinedly continue to do this. If Bahçeli wants, he can hold his party congress in the garden of the palace.”

Bozdağ had strongly criticized Kılıçdaroğlu and Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) Chairman Metin Feyzioğlu for their decision not to participate in the ceremony at the presidential palace.

“Evaluating judicial independence and impartiality in terms of formalism, compatibility with our ideologies and the ceremony [venue] is surrendering to primitiveness,” Bozdağ said in a Twitter message posted on Tuesday.

“Despite the peer pressure and formalism, CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu and TBB Chairman Feyzioğlu should participate in the ceremony to open the new judicial year.”

Underlining that a ceremony at the presidential palace would harm the independence of the judiciary, Kılıçdaroğlu announced over the weekend that he would not attend the Sept. 1 event.

TBB Chairman Feyzioğlu also said he would not be present at the ceremony.
“I will not participate in the ceremony if it is not held in a place that does not harm the principle of separation of powers,” Feyzioğlu had told Turkish news portal T24 at the weekend.

“We were first told the ceremony would take place at a hotel in Ankara,” Feyzioğlu added, in reaction to a choice of venue that leads to concerns over the independence of the judiciary from the executive.

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