In pointed new year's statement, Turkish President Gul urges respect for rule of law

Amid a corruption scandal that has called into question the independence of the judiciary in Turkey, President Abdullah Gul is urging his country to respect the rule of law.

In a statement marking the new year, Gul noted "a tough year for both our country and the world."

The statement released late Tuesday focusing on Turkey's democratic development comes as Turkish prosecutors are targeting close allies of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan has responded by alleging a conspiracy and removing police chiefs and judicial officials.

Gul warned: "Democracy is a regime of rules and institutions which is based upon the separation of powers." He added: "It is our common responsibility to avoid behaviors that could harm the understanding and perception of an independent and impartial judiciary."