PM Erdoğan breaks his health-imposed silence yesterday, denying there is a crisis within the state and hailing ‘harmony’ among institutions
Turkey’s top institutions are not in a crisis but are instead working together in harmony, the prime minister said yesterday in his first comments on the fight over an attempt to probe top spy officials and his first remarks since emerging from follow-up digestive surgery.
“No one should harbor hopes of growing divisive and sinister seeds. No one should pray for a crisis. No one should dream of chaos and conflict. All institutions are working with harmony and motivation that has never before been seen in the history of the country,” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday in an address to the youth branches of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) via video conference.
The event was his first public appearance since Feb. 10, the date of his second digestive-tract operation.
Erdoğan’s words came nearly 10 days after a massive crisis erupted in the country after a specially authorized prosecutor called Hakan Fidan, chief of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and four other MİT officials to testify over an ongoing probe on theKurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), on the grounds that some MİT members who infiltrated the KCKhad exceeded their authority in their duties.
Prosecutor Sadettin Sarıkaya and senior police officers carrying out the KCK operations were immediately removed from their office while the government increased the immunity of MİT personnel as a result of the call for testimony.
‘We won’t bow before anybody’
“The judiciary, police, army and the intelligence services are in complete coordination. They are devotedly doing their duties. Tarnishing institutions and trying to show them in disharmony will not bring any benefit to our country,” Erdoğan said.
Recalling that the harmony and coordination among the institutions could be possible thanks to this government’s efforts through “silent revolution and transformation,” the prime minister said: “We will not permit illegitimacy in this country. We will never enslave those who have been elected under the appointed ones. We have always been sensitive toward the harmony and coordination between the executive, legislative and judicial branches and the institutions.”
Calling all columnists, intellectuals, the media and politicians to exercise common sense when interpreting such developments, Erdoğan criticized those who were trying to suggest the AKP was in conflict with the people. “Those who are trying to do this will be ashamed.”
In an indirect reference to the alleged fight between the AKP and the Fethullah Gülen religious community, Erdoğan said, “They will never bow before anyone as they are representing the will of the people.”
Eyes on PM now
The crisis appears over following the president’s summary approval of an amendment making the prime minister’s consent obligatory before a prosecutor can launch probes against intelligence officials.
All eyes have now turned to Erdoğan, who will find prosecutors’ requests to probe Fidan and other senior officials on his desk when he returns to Ankara, likely this week.
Under the amended Article 26 of the MİT Act, the prime minister’s permission will be required to investigate MİT members as well as “public officials the prime minister assigns to specific tasks” for crimes that arise from the nature of their duties or they commit while on duty or for offenses handled by special-authority courts.
MİT not untouchable
Though the law increases the immunity for MİT personnel, it does not mean that intelligence officers will be above the law. “If MİT personnel commit a crime, then the laws will be applied for him or her. MİT personnel are not untouchable,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ told daily Yeni Şafak yesterday.
Noting that five MİT personnel had been prosecuted since Erdoğan approved their requests after his Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, Bozdağ dismissed claims that the amendment will exempt intelligence service members from prosecution even if they commit crimes.
Erdoğan, meanwhile, also said during his speech that he wanted a “modern and pious” youth.
“We are making the biggest investment in the new generations, we are doing everything possible for a well-educated and well-informed youth,” said Erdoğan. “I’m talking about a modern and pious youth, I’m talking about youth standing up for their language and religion.”