05/07/2008, 00.00
TURKEY
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AKP rejects charges it wants to “Islamise” Turkey

Prime Minister Erdoğan fires off first salvo in the ruling party’s defence, challenging the bases of the indictment against the AKP, denying it has any “secret agenda”, arguing that the party’s goal is to build a “unitary, secular and democratic state”.

Ankara (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The AKP, the moderate Islamist party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan which swept to victory in the last elections, in its defence before the Constitutional Court has denied that it wants to “Islamise” Turkey, thus violating the secular nature of the state as laid down in the constitution approved under the founder of the Turkish Republic Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. If accepted the charge might lead to the dissolution of the party and the banning of its leaders who, in addition to the prime minister, include the incumbent president, Abdullah Gül.

The first line of defence, defined as a response to the indictment by the chief prosecutor of Turkey, came from Prime Minister Erdoğan himself, news agencies reported, not from the party officially. It repeatedly stressed that the party represents the will of the people, suggesting that a referendum might be held, which the AKP would very likely win, but which would split the country and raise questions about what the military might do. 

At the same time on the day that the AKP made its first move, the European Union’s support for the ruling party showed signs of becoming lukewarm. European Union's Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn repeated that the EU expected Turkey to solve its problems by adhering to European criteria.

In Turkey the press covered the AKP’s “response”, stressing how the party claims it has become the “focal point of service to the country and the nation” since its foundation, not the “focal point of anti-secular activities.”

For the AKP the indictment is not based on the main characteristics of any legal system such as objectivity and rational behaviour and is full of contradictions. It is a “paradox to claim that a party, that took the necessary steps to become a full member of the European Union, should become the focal point of anti-secular activities.”

The AKP rejects “every claim and accusation”’ in the indictment. In a statement it said: “We believe that the indictment has neither a political nor legal legitimacy. We think this indictment finds our nation, who supports our party and its fundamental values, culpable, not only our party. This indictment targets not only the AKP but also the national will and democratic politics.”

Lastly, the party has no “secret agenda”. Its political identity is democratic aiming at normalising political life by eliminating embedded political divisions. Its fundamental policy mission is a “unitary, secular and democratic state”.

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