Turkey - annual report 2018

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

The IRZ was engaged in many different activities with Turkish partners from 2007 to 2013. The cooperation included EU Twinning Projects in connection with the Turkish judicial reform strategy of 2009, as well as the continuation and intensification of EU accession negotiations. There were also a number of study trips to Germany by Turkish partners. But the cooperation became increasingly difficult following the Gezi Park protests of 2013 and the associated internal conflicts.

As a result, numerous laws were passed that led to restrictions in the independence of the judiciary and other aspects, which in turn precipitated international protests. Following the failed coup attempt of 15 July 2016, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency, which remained in force until the presidential and parliamentary elections that were held simultaneously in summer 2018. As part of the state of emergency, many decrees were enacted that, among other things, significantly curtailed the rights of defendants, which again provoked international criticism. The state of emergency also led to a wave of dismissals and incarcerations, especially within the judiciary. The EU Country Report of 2018 clearly states the setbacks in development of the rule of law in Turkey as well.

Outlook

Given the current situation as outlined above, it has not been possible to continue cooperation with Turkey in the reporting year. The current situation is dominated, both at federal policy level and at European level, by considerations as to how the existing dialogue can be resumed.

Turkey - annual report 2017

Legal Policy Situation

From 2007 to 2013, the IRZ conducted manifold activities in cooperation with Turkey, whether within the framework of EU Twinning projects, in connection with the Turkish Judicial Reform Strategy of 2009, the continuation and intensification of EU accession negotiations by the opening of numerous accession chapters or in the course of different study trips to Germany by Turkish specialists. After the Gezi Park protests in 2013 and the ensuing domestic disputes, cooperation, however, became increasingly more difficult.

Numerous laws were passed subsequently, which, for example, resulted in restrictions on the independence of the judiciary, which in turn led to international protests and warnings against Turkey. After the failed coup attempt of 15 July 2016, the Turkish government has declared a state of emergency, which since then has been extended repeatedly and is continuing beyond the reporting period. In this context, many decrees have been enacted, that put into operation far reaching measures in all sectors of the country, including massive layoffs and arrests within the civil service. The latest EU country report of 11/2016 on Turkey’s development clearly outlines the steps taken backwards in the development of the rule of law.

Outlook

Against the backdrop outlined above, it was impossible to continue cooperating with Turkey in the year under review. Meanwhile, the situation is characterised by considerations, both at German national and at European level, as to how far further expert-level cooperation may be provided. Further, it remains to be seen how far a resumption of cooperation will be feasible in 2018.

Turkey - annual report 2016

Delegation of the General Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of Cassation of the Republic of Turkey on a visit to the Berlin General Prosecutor’s Office on the topic of cybercrime

Delegation of the General Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of Cassation of the Republic of Turkey on a visit to the Berlin General Prosecutor’s Office on the topic of cybercrime

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

Since the commencement of relations with Turkey in 2007, fruitful cooperation was initially established and subsequently intensified. Until 2013, many varied activities were conducted on the basis of this, whether within the framework of Twinning projects, in connection with the Turkish Judicial Reform Strategy of 2009, the continuation and intensification of the EU accession negotiations by the opening of numerous accession chapters or in the course of different study trips to Germany by Turkish partners.

Since 2013, the parameters for cooperation have changed as a result of political turbulence in Turkey triggered by the controversy in connection with the Gezi Park protests, with consequences which are still felt today. This weakening in cooperation also continued in 2014 and led to a situation in which the year 2015 was mainly characterised by current projects being brought to a conclusion and the discussion of cornerstone values for continued cooperation with frequently changing contact partners.

The Turkish parliamentary elections held in 2015 and their repetition shortly afterwards likewise took their toll on cooperation, because they also again involved further numerous changes in the existing contact partners in the Turkish institutions. Towards the end of 2015, there was an improvement in relations with Turkey both by the German Federal Government and as a result of the activities of the EU and the European Council, not least in view of the refugee crisis. Nevertheless, the EU Progress Report clearly expressed criticism with regard to the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers. The report complains about the high political pressure on judges and public prosecutors, as well as numerous other legal and legal policy deficits. In the light of the above, cooperation activities were initially continued by the IRZ at the start of 2016, but the political situation in Turkey deteriorated in the further course of the reporting year to such an extent that the cooperation came to a halt.

Overall Concept

As cooperation mainly had to be concentrated on the conclusion of existing projects in 2015 and the political situation deteriorated even more seriously when compared to previous years, only three activities could be realised in the first half of 2016. These included specialist criminal law issues (cybercrime), but also procedurural topics such as the introduction of appeal courts and coercive measures in preliminary investigations. Several other cooperation projects already planned and in preparation were suspended by the Turkish partners during the political events since the summer of 2016.

In the meantime, the situation is characterised by considerations about the extent to which further specialist cooperation and support can be supplied for a possible continuation of reform processes, both at Federal German and European level. The IRZ will follow the political situation closely and examine whether and to what extent cooperation can be resumed in 2017.

Foci of Activity in 2016

Administration of Justice

  • Symposium in Antalya on the establishment of appeal courts

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

  • Working visit to Berlin by a delegation from the General Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of Cassation on the topic of cybercrime
  • Workshop in Istanbul on “Coercive measures in preliminary investigations” with the University of Istanbul and the Justice Academy during the 11th Criminal Law Days 2016

Outlook

In 2017, cooperation with the Turkish partner institutions will depend on political developments within Turkey, but also on the extent of the cooperation at German Federal and European level.

Download the entire IRZ annual report in PDF format here: annual report 2016.