WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News
Relieved by the Constitutional Court's move not to ban the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, on anti-secularism charges, the United States Wednesday called on Turkey to seize the opportunity of what is expected to be political relief to focus on political and economic reforms that will bring the country closer to the European Union.
"We would encourage Turkey to use this moment to reinvigorate its efforts with the EU," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters shortly after the court's announcement.
"I know that requires both sides, the EU to reinvigorate its efforts as well, to move forward on the basis of Turkey continuing its efforts at political and economic reform, based on Turkey's Constitution and secular democracy," he said.
The court did not close down the AKP, but halved the party's state funding for one year, and its chief judge, Hasim Kilic, said most jurists found credible evidence that party leaders had undermined secularism.
"We have confidence in Turkey and confidence in the Turkish people and their democracy. The court has rendered an opinion," McCormack said.
'We'll work with this government'
"We're going to continue to work with this government. We've worked quite well with them," he said.
The United States had made clear over the past couple of months that it opposed a ban on the AKP.
But unlike the EU, which had warned that an AKP ban would likely lead to a suspension of Turkey's membership talks, Washington had followed a more subtle, nuanced and diplomatic approach, refraining from moves that could be seen as an effort to pressure the court.
McCormack's statement, the only official U.S. remarks on the day the verdict was issued, also reflected an effort to stay out of the Turkish judicial process.
But even as Washington vocally urged Turkey to use the moment for EU reforms, some officials privately admitted that Turkish tensions might flare up again in the not-so-distant future as the essence of the conflict remains in place.