The President of the Republic of Turkey Mr Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the leader of the CHP Mr. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the President of the Court of Cassation Mr. İsmail Rüştü Cirit, the President of the Council of State Mrs. Zerrin Güngör, the Minister of Justice Mr. Abdulhamit Gül, the Minister of National Defence Mr. Hulusi Akar, the Deputy President of the Turkish Grand National Assembly Mr. Mustafa Şentop, the President of the Supreme Electoral Council Mr. Sadi Güven, the Chief Public Prosecutor of the Court of Cassation Mr. Mehmet Akarca, the President of the Turkish Bar Association Mr. Metin Feyzioğlu, the AK Party Yozgat deputy Mr. Bekir Bozdag, AK Party Deputy Chairman Mr. Numan Kurtulmuş, members of the high judiciary and other guests attended the ceremony.
The President of the Constitutional Court Mr. Zühtü Arslan, the Vice-Presidents and the new Justice Mr. Yıldız Seferinoğlu welcomed the guests.
President Arslan noted in his speech that he believes that the Constitutional Court will benefit from Seferinoğlu’s vast experience. President Arslan pointed out that it is a universal practice for people performing public service to take an oath, and in this sense, taking an oath is a statement of loyalty and commitment.
He stated that when taking office as Constitutional Court Justices, one promises to protect the Constitution and the fundamental rights and freedoms. President Arslan continued as follows: “On the other hand, we guarantee that we will only comply with the orders of our conscience away from any impact and influence”.
In fact the raison d’être of the Constitutional Court is summarized in the text of the oath. The Constitutional Court is a high court with the duty to protect the rule of law and the fundamental rights of individuals within judicial independence and impartiality. With no doubt, the Court has to fulfill the protection of the constitution by acting within the limits of the constitutional borders. In our ancient state tradition, justice has been accepted as the basic condition for the state to continue its existence. Yusuf Has Hacib neatly described the justice concept in Kutadgu Bilig thousand years ago, which later also marked the Ottoman state understanding. Justice is a good governance formula with “justice” in the middle of the circle. According to this, “in order to hold a country one needs many soldiers and an army, and many goods and wealth to feed the soldiers; in order to obtain these goods one needs a rich society, and in order to make people rich one needs to introduce just laws”. According to Yusuf Has Hâcib, “The governor who introduces fair laws in the country puts his country in order and lightens its day.”
President Arslan emphasized that law is a necessity in every society as vital as bread, water and air and stated that “ensuring and maintaining the rule of law is a guarantee of the future of a country. In this context, reaching the level of a modern civilization, which is expressed in the Constitution and which is our national goal, is only possible with the establishment of the rule of law with all requirements and institutions. Especially for this reason, the rule of law has been placed as the basis of our constitutional identity.”
“The Individual Application a Revolutionary Change”
President Arslan expressed that the individual application is a milestone regarding the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms and stated that “this revolutionary change has divided examination of the Turkish constitutional jurisprudence into two periods: before and after the introduction of the individual application.”
President Arslan expressed his gratitude to the President of the Republic Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and to everybody who contributed to the individual application system.
“35 thousand applications were finalized in 2018”
Pointing out that the Constitutional Court aims to conclude individual applications within a reasonable time despite the increasing workload, Arslan said: “Since 23 September 2012 we have concluded 176.000 applications out of around 216.000 applications. Our ratio is increasing every year.” President Arslan, conveyed that last year around 38.000 applications were filed to the court and 35.000 applications were addressed in the same year.
Stating that the target is to bring this rate to 100%, President Arslan commented: “Because we have around 40.000 pending individual applications. Our aim is to address these applications within the most possible reasonable time. ”
Emphasizing that the Constitutional Court is facing some challenges such as heavy workload and the necessity to develop principles related to new judicial institutions, President Arslan continued his words as follows: “The Constitutional Court has been maintaining its rights based approach since 2012 despite all difficulties. The rights-based approach is based on the paradigm of honoring people with fundamental rights and freedoms.
As the Constitutional Court, inspired by Mawlana’s metaphor of compass, one of our feet is fixed in the values of this land, and with the other we strive for the establishment of constitutional justice by opening up to the world. We bear the concern and desire of an ideal constitutional review that would fully protect rights and freedoms and take its place among the best practices in comparative constitutional jurisdiction. Because we know that an effective constitutionality review bears a vital function in maintaining the existence of a democratic state of law.”
After the speech of President Zühtü Arslan, the oath-taking ceremony commenced. The new Justice Mr. Yıldız Seferinoğlu took his oath after his curriculum vitae was presented. Seferinoğlu was then vested with the robe by President Arslan.