Turkish Government′s Pro-EU Steps Save Ruling Party | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 24.10.2008
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Turkish Government's Pro-EU Steps Save Ruling Party

Turkey's highest court has decided not to close down the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) because of the government's steps to join the European Union.

EU and Turkish flags

The AKP may have Islamic roots, but it's moving Turkey toward the EU, said the court

The court's reasoning was published in the Official Gazette on Friday, Oct. 24.

The Constitutional Court in July issued the Islamic-rooted party with a severe warning for being "a focal point of anti-secular activities," but instead of banning the party, the court fined it half the amount it expected to receive in treasury aid.

According to the court's reasoning, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statements concerning the wearing of Islamic-style headscarves were considered harmful to secularism. But the judges added that the government's steps to join the European Union and its extension of rights to ethnic and religious minorities were taken into consideration.

No signs of violence

The court also noted that, while the AKP government had taken steps that harmed secularism, it had not promoted or used violence in its actions.

The AKP was formed out of the ashes of banned Islamist parties but its founders and current leaders insist it is a moderate conservative party, not a religious party.

The July decision not to close the party came as a relief not just to the AKP but also to the stock market, which feared that closing down the party could lead to turmoil as a decision to ban the party would almost certainly have led to early elections.

At elections in July last year, the AKP received 47 percent of the vote, giving it a massive majority in parliament.

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