Representatives from the European Bars Federation (FBE), the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), French National Bar Associations Council (CNB), French Bar Presidents Conference, Lawyers for Lawyers, Defense without Borders (DSF), European Democratic Lawyers, Paris Bar, Bordeaux Bar, Rhein Bar, Lyon Bar, Strasbourg Bar, Bologna Bar, Lucca Bar and Toulouse Bar paid a visit to Istanbul Bar Association on Thursday, January 6, 2022 at 12:00 and met with the President of the Istanbul Bar Association, Atty. Mehmet Durakoğlu. Istanbul Bar Association Secretary-General Atty. Cengiz Yaka, Istanbul Bar Association Board Member Atty. Sinan Naipoğlu and members of the Foreign Relations Center of Istanbul Bar Association also attended the meeting.
Having attended the hearing of the trial in which 22 lawyers were tried held in Silivri on January 5 as observers representing various bar associations and legal organizations in Europe, the delegates stated that they are in full and continuous solidarity with Turkish lawyers. The members of the delegation, who raised their concerns about the lawyers' trials in which the right to a fair trial is violated in Turkey, said that they have provided all possible support to the Istanbul Bar Association and Turkish lawyers from the beginning of the trial process, by lobbying both with the observer committees, the institutions they represent and the authorities in Europe. They emphasized that Istanbul Bar Association plays an active and fundamental role in protecting the lawyers' right to defense and their right to fair trial, and ensuring the independence of the legal profession. They extended their thanks to President Durakoğlu for his support to the lawyers on trial.
President Durakoğlu started his speech by emphasizing the importance of international professional solidarity and thanking the delegation, and made evaluations about the judicial climate in Turkey after the 2010 referendum and the system change in 2017. Durakoğlu said that it is impossible to talk about the independence of the judiciary in Turkey, and that the political power intimidates the defense through trials, and that it is not only the lawyers sitting in the defendant's chair who are standing trial, but it is also a trial against the bar associations and the legal profession as a whole in Turkey. Emphasizing that the opening of Chapters 23 and 24 for Turkey in the EU negotiations is of great importance in terms of necessitating structural changes in the judiciary in Turkey, President Durakoğlu said that lobbying activities by the members of the delegation on this issue before the organizations they represent and the EU authorities would help to ensure the independence of the judiciary and will be a driving force for the re-establishment of the rule of law in Turkey. Durakoğlu added that Istanbul Bar Association has continued its struggle on the axis of democracy, rule of law, independence of the judiciary, the principle of fair trial and universal principles of law throughout its 143-year history, and that its unyielding struggle will.
At the meeting, Bologna Bar Association Board Member Antonio Fraticelli suggested signing a memorandum of understanding between Istanbul Bar Association and Bologna Bar Association in order to enable continuous information exchange and concrete solidarity, and presented the Medal of Honor, granted by Bologna Bar Association to the legal professionals who struggle for the rule of law and the independence of the legal profession, to President Durakoğlu.