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ANKARA - "Everybody living in this country is equal under the laws irrespective of their language, race, color, gender, political opinion, philosophical belief, religion or sect," said Osman Arslan, chairman of the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals.

Making a keynote speech in a ceremony held at the Supreme Court HQ in Ankara to mark the beginning of the new judicial year, Arslan indicated, "nobody is a second-class citizen in this country" and noted that preserving the unitary structure of Turkey is for the best interests of everyone living on Turkey's territories.

Arslan pointed out that wars and clashes continue in the region and the world, stating that mankind should exert concerted efforts to end wars and eradicate terrorism.

-SEPARATIST THOUGHTS-

On the other hand, Arslan said that internal and external circles back some separatist and fundamentalist movements. "Colonialist forces target at dividing our country by causing ethnic and religious discrimination," he noted, adding that democratic rights and freedoms should be used for the peace and happiness of people.

Condemning the armed attack on members of the Council of State, Arslan said, "no terrorist act can prevent justice from making the decisions that it deems as right."

Referring to secularism, one of fundamental principles of the Republic of Turkey, Arslan said, "no one has the right to target at basing the state on religious rules, even partially, and abuse religious feelings."

-ARINC'S & ERDOGAN'S MESSAGES-

Meanwhile, Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent messages to Arslan to mark the new judicial year.

In his message, Arinc said, "I believe that we all have to assure the independence of judiciary in order to preserve fundamental rights and freedoms and not to harm the rule of law," while Erdogan noted, "as the government, we are doing what is necessary to modernize our judicial institutions and help jurists work under better circumstances."

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