Judiciary must respect democracy: German state PM

Judiciary must obey the rules of democracy and should not engage in politics, northwestern Germany's Prime Minister of Lower Saxony Stephan Weil said on Thursday during a conference in Istanbul

Judiciary must obey the rules of democracy and should not engage in politics, northwestern Germany's Prime Minister of Lower Saxony Stephan Weil said on Thursday during a conference in Istanbul

ISTANBUL - Judiciary must obey the rules of democracy and should not engage in politics, northwestern Germany's Prime Minister of Lower Saxony Stephan Weil said on Thursday during a conference in Istanbul. Only two weeks ago, German President Joachim Gauck critiqued Turkey’s press freedom, remarks which Turkish leaders considered politically incorrect and diplomatically impolite. 

Speaking in a 'State of Law and Democracy' conference at Istanbul’s Kultur University on Thursday, on the 65th anniversary of approval of the Constitution of Germany, Weil noted that the courts and judicial officials should work completely independent from any political influence and "not engage in one-sided spokesmanship of either the ruling government or the opposition party.”  

Referring to Edmund Burke’s proverb that media is the Fourth Estate, Weil said separation of powers must be not just written in constitution, but executed in daily practice.

Weil also asserted that critical media had gained in importance and added that internet media were necessary in today's world, stressing Germany struggled for media freedom by creating a 'checks and balances' system after World War II, during which millions of people were killed because either of their religious beliefs or sexual choices under Hitler's Nazi regime. 

Saying that German courts now enjoyed freedom of speech and noting that judicial decisions must be respected, although the second to 19th chapters of the German constitution only covered basic rights. 

"If these conditions are to be practiced, I would be a supporter of Turkey's membership in the European Union. I support opening the [EU] chapters 23 and 24 over judicial and fundamental rights," Weil said, adding that “some concerns” existed in Germany now, where Gauck's statements over Turkey were also considered.

Weil also underlined a respectful, friendly but “open” discussion was necessary on the way to EU membership for Turkey, adding democracy was a system which supported the “right to congregate and demonstrate through all modern communication systems.”

At a local election rally before March 30, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said the government would "eradicate" Twitter based on a court order, upon the claim of that Twitter refused to remove some links despite Turkish court rulings, according to the press center of the Turkish Prime Ministry. 

When asked whether his request to meet with Erdogan was rejected, Weil said he would meet on Friday with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, PM Erdogan and Turkish Deputy PM Ali Babacan.

The conference with a high attendance of academics, press members and students, hosted by the German consul general in Istanbul, Jutta Wolke. 

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