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Ruling Party In Turkey Reveals Details Of Its Defensive Statement Against Charges In Closure Case

Published: 7/4/2008 ANKARA - Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party made public on Friday the contents of its defensive statement against charges in a case filed to disband the party.

Deputy Premier Cemil Cicek submitted AK Party's verbal defense in a more than six-hour hearing at the Constitutional Court on Thursday.

"We need to make a cost analysis as to what results closing political parties had yielded other than deepening political fragility in the society and causing the society to be drained of its strength," a text of the statement posted on AK Party's web-site quoted Cicek as telling the highest court.

"One cannot call a political system 'a contemporary constitutional democracy' if we do not accept political parties as the indispensable elements of the political life and grant them a sufficient level of freedom of expression," Cicek said.

"There has been no practical use in denying a social reality by acting on political and conjunctural motivations. Passing successive rulings to shut down political parties removes the opportunity to produce solutions to the problems in the country within the confines of democracy and law. In democratic systems the survival of political parties is essential and their closure is exceptional," Cicek said.

"Liquidating elements of diversity in the society from the institutional and political life constitutes an entrapment for democracy, and it pushes democracy away from its premises and to forms of regimes which we would not like to live in," Cicek said.

"AK Party does not threaten democracy, instead it is virtually the only address drawing democrats of this country towards itself," Cicek said.

"While stating the reasons for closure of political parties, the indictment makes reference to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Venice Commission principles; it ignores the fact that the Venice Commission introduced a kind of protection system for political parties by stating that only political parties advocating violence can be closed," Cicek said.

"The indictment contains mention of the criteria displayed in the decisions of the ECHR on the banning of political parties but it does not show why, in accordance with these criteria, the AK Party should be closed," he said.

Cicek said the basis of this case was weak and several concerns and delusions became the topic of the case. The case did not have any concrete evidence, he stated.

The verdict to be made in regard to this case would become an important cornerstone in the new century, Cicek said.

Cicek said any organ or member of the AK Party had never harbored any understanding which would equal 'individuals who describe themselves as secular' with faithlessness.

"And the prosecution failed to show any evidence to support such a serious allegation. Charging without producing evidence is a method which is rejected by the rule of law," Cicek told the court, refusing charges that his party pushed the society into two camps as secular and anti-secular.

Cicek also said the AK Party had never disputed the legitimacy of the principle of secularism, adding that any party official had never made any statements that "the principle of secularism should be submitted to referendum."

AK Party was not a descendant of any previous political party which was disbanded by the Constitutional Court, he stated.

Cicek said the prosecution included in the indictment statements and actions by individuals who were not AK party members. "Statements and actions of non-Party members cannot be associated with the AK Party," he said.

Cicek said the prosecution openly violated the constitution by including President Abdullah Gul in the closure case.

"It is a waste of time to claim that the AK Party constituted a threat for democracy and the democratic regime, the two very grounds to which it owes its existence and its reign as the governing as the ruling party," Cicek told the court.

"Members and the organs of the AK Party have no action or statement against the principle of secularism. Therefore it is impossible to speak of the intensity of actions or statements that are non-existent," he said.

AK Party adhered to secular characteristic of the Republic, he said. AK Party Chairman and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan contributed to strengthening secularism with his statements and attitudes, Cicek stated.

Cicek said the AK Party faced a closure case because it argued for a liberal understanding of the principle of secularism.

Cicek also said the AK Party had nothing to do with a May 2006 armed attack on the country's highest administrative court, which killed one senior judge and wounded others.

"AK Party does not have a secret understanding, policy guidelines, program or intention. The AK Party never had and never will have a secret agenda," Cicek said.

"Trying to find a solution on a ban enforced to female students studying at universities; a solution based on the constitution and existing laws are not attempts that could be described as against the Turkish Constitution and secularism," Cicek said.

"During AK Party's term in office, there was no interference to political, economic, cultural and social lives of individuals," Cicek said.

"In no democratic country can the judiciary give powers (to a political party) not granted by the people itself. The courts can not change governments. Only the public may make changes in the government," Cicek said.

"AK Party never had and never will have a project or thought that could be described as 'moderate Islam'," Cicek said.

Cicek said, during the past 6 years in office, his party served the Turkish Nation, the Republic and its constitution with irrevocable provisions and articles on which amendments could not even be proposed.

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