Turkish President Abdullah Gül told journalists Sunday that he had called on Parliament to correct a ‘few problematic points’ with a controversial law authorising government controls on the Internet passed last week.
During a “Sunday coffee chat” with journalists in the Huber Palace, which has an impressive view of the Bosphorus, President Abdullah Gül frankly admitted that all efforts to impose bans on the Internet would bear no results. “Even the Americans gave it up,” he said. “As far as I know, they tried a lot after the Snowden leaks.”
He said he had invited journalists in order to explain why he had approved a controversial law imposing additional government control on the Internet last week. He thinks the New York Times editorial accusing him of joining Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan government’s “assault on free speech” was “not written with bad intentions, but was unfair.”
Gül said he had two options when the bill was sent for his approval after passing with ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) votes in Parliament, despite his earlier warnings that there were “a few problematic points” in the text.
“I could have chosen the easier and more popular way and vetoed it. But in this election atmosphere the government would most likely have passed it again in the same form, and I would then have had no constitutional choice but to sign it with no improvements. I chose the difficult path, hoping that I could make some improvements that could make it acceptable to me, and faced a lot of criticism,” he said.
Taking the example of his predecessors “like Süleyman Demirel and Ahmet Necdet Sezer,” Gül approved the law and asked the government to make the changes he suggested. If it does not do this, he has the right to apply to the Constitutional Court for the annulment of the whole law.
But Gül is well aware that these explanations will fall short in changing the public perception, both inside and outside Turkey, that he approved a bill limiting (“controlling” is the word Erdoğan prefers) Internet freedom. “It is clear that we [Turkey] are going through a time of negative perceptions. We have to correct this,” he said.
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Date created : 2014-02-24