ISTANBUL Jan 16 Deputy Prime Minister Ali
Babacan said trust in Turkey's legal system was essential to it
attaining its long-term growth goals, as the government pressed
ahead with plans to assert control over the judiciary.
Babacan, in charge of the economy and seen by investors as a
market-friendly voice in the ruling AK Party, said Turkey's aim
of reaching an average national income of $25,000 per person
would be unreachable if investors, foreign and domestic, could
not rely on the courts.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party is currently
pushing through parliament a draft law which will give the
government tighter control over the appointment of judges and
prosecutors, triggering European Union and investor concern
about its commitment to EU membership criteria.
Erdogan's opponents see the proposals as an attempt to
stifle a damaging corruption investigation which erupted a month
ago with the detention of businessmen close to the government
and three ministers' sons.
Erdogan portrays them as essential to root out the influence
of a U.S.-based Turkish cleric, and former ally, he accuses of
infiltrating the judiciary and police to influence policy
behind the scenes.
"If we can't make an investor, whether domestic or
international, take the view: 'I trust the Turkish legal system'
... a national income of $25,000 will remain just a dream,"
Babacan said late on Wednesday.
"Legal security is a prerequisite in a country. Clear,
written rules, equality of opportunity, competition operating
according to these rules. These are very important," he told a
conference of Turkish ambassadors.
What erupted a month ago as a corruption inquiry involving
the sons of three ministers and businessmen close to the
government has grown into one of the biggest challenges of
Erdogan's 11-year rule.
Details of the corruption allegations have not been made
public, but are thought to relate to construction and real
estate projects and Turkey's gold trade with Iran.
Erdogan's supporters see U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah
Gulen - a former ally whose network of followers is influential
in the police and judiciary - as a prime mover in a smear
campaign backed by foreign collaborators.
AK supporters say the party's proposals to reform the
judiciary will make it more, not less, independent by countering
the influence of Gulenists within the legal system.
(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Ralph