Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Saturday, January 17, 1998 Published at 00:05 GMT

World: Europe

US criticises Turkish Welfare Party ban

Welfare held 27% of seats in the Turkish parliament

The United States has sharply criticised a ruling by the Turkish constitutional court banning the pro-Islamic Welfare Party, the biggest group in parliament.

Andrew Mango, Turkish affairs analyst: "Welfare already reforming" (2'41")
Turkey's judiciary dissolved Welfare because it said the party acted against the secular principles of the Turkish republic while in government.

The court banned the party leader, Necmettin Erbakan and several colleagues, from politics for five years.

[ image: Setback for Welfare party supporters]
Setback for Welfare party supporters
US State Department spokesman James Rubin said the affair had damaged confidence in Turkish democracy.

"As we have often said, the answer to many of Turkey's problems is to enhance democracy, to adopt reforms that would allow greater freedom of expression and wider political participation," he said.

The ruling has also drawn criticism from Britain, the current president of the European Union.

The EU was already unhappy with Turkey's human rights record and the BBC's correspondent in Ankara says this latest action will not help Turkey's case for membership.

Welfare was pressured out of power last June by the military after leading a coalition government for a year.

The BBC's Chris Morris reports from Ankara on the verdict (Dur 1'16)
Welfare officials have accused the state of over-reacting and of trying to victimise a party which has 150 seats in the Grand National Assembly and more than four million members.

The case, which has been deliberated for several weeks, is thought to be one of the most politically-sensitive judgements the constitutional court has ever been asked to make.

The attempts to increase the Islamic tenor of life in this predominantly Muslim country angered army generals.

Funds frozen

Expectations that a ban on Welfare could lead to early elections has weighed on Turkish shares in recent weeks and many brokers have discounted a closure decision.

[ image: Welfare leader Necmettin Erbakan: Forced out]
Welfare leader Necmettin Erbakan: Forced out
Stocks were slightly higher on Friday.

In an unprecedented move earlier this week, the courts froze more than $5m of treasury aid due to Welfare as a precautionary measure in case the party was closed down.

The court ruling is only a temporary victory for opponents of the Islamic political movement.

The party is likely to be resurrected under a new name. But the seizure of assets and cash reserves could hurt its chances in the elections that may follow the court ruling.

It apparently was already in the process of being reformed under a new name, as it did after being closed twice before since 1970.

Mr Erbakan has said he will appeal against the decision to the European Court of Human Rights.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

16 Jan 98 | Despatches
Turkey's Welfare Party is banned

12 Jan 98 | Europe
Turkish court freezes Welfare Party funds

07 Jan 98 | Europe
Turkey protests at British minister's remarks

02 Jan 98 | Europe
Turkish police arrests alleged Islamic militants

17 Dec 97 | Europe
New party founded by Turkish Islamists

Internet Links

Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Turkish Welfare Party

Europa: The European Union

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Violence greets Clinton visit

Russian forces pound Grozny

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Next steps for peace

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Trans-Turkish pipeline deal signed

French party seeks new leader

Jube tube debut

Athens riots for Clinton visit

UN envoy discusses Chechnya in Moscow

Solana new Western European Union chief

Moldova's PM-designate withdraws

Chechen government welcomes summit

In pictures: Clinton's violent welcome

Georgia protests over Russian 'attack'

UN chief: No Chechen 'catastrophe'

New arms control treaty for Europe

From Business
Mannesmann fights back

EU fraud -- a billion-dollar bill

New moves in Spain's terror scandal

EU allows labelling of British beef

UN seeks more security in Chechnya

Athens riots for Clinton visit

Russia's media war over Chechnya

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Analysis: East-West relations must shift