Turkish Justice Minister Abdulahmit Gül emphasized the supremacy of law during a speech on Nov. 8, saying that the law will always “walk ahead,” not the other way around.
“The state of law is based on the understanding that 'The law walks ahead, and we adjust ourselves accordingly,' not 'Let us do it, and then let the law follow,” Gül said during a symposium organized by the Justice Ministry.
“With this belief and determination, under the leadership of our President, we are determined to walk towards our targets, without making any concessions to the rule of law and commitment of the law,” Gül further said.
Gül's remarks were said to be in criticism of Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu's statements from October during which the latter promoted disregard for laws.
While addressing women neighborhood heads (“muhtars”) on Oct. 26, Soylu said that he had been getting complaints from local authorities that they could not demolish abandoned buildings without court orders.
“Our neighborhood heads are saying, 'Sir, there is here an abandoned building, there is another there. But there is a court order, and we cannot demolish them.' Well then, you demolish them at night, and let the court order follow. Because as that abandoned building stays there, drugs are being used,” Soylu said.
“Citizens are coming to the neighborhood heads and asking them, 'What are you going to do with this building?' The neighborhood heads then say, 'There is a court order, we cannot demolish it.' And what I say is that, let the bulldozer come at night and demolish it. Who would know who demolished it?”
Soylu's comments led a widespread criticism, with people pointing out that the minister was inciting the local authorities to commit criminal acts and to ignore the laws to serve the needs of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Apart from Minister Gül, Constitutional Court President Zühtü Arslan and Council of State President Zeki Yiğit also held speeches during the symposium on Nov. 8.
Arslan warned judges and prosecutors during his speech, telling them to avoid making any remarks that are political. “Our judges and prosecutors need to avoid any remarks, attitude and behaviors that might exceed their constitutional and legal powers and draw the judiciary into a political polemic,” Arslan said.