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Turkish PM threatens leading businessman favoring CHP win

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News | 6/2/2011 12:00:00 AM |

The prime minister has indirectly threatened a leading businessman that reportedly made a bet with journalists that the CHP would win the upcoming elections.

Turkey’s prime minister has indirectly threatened a leading businessman that reportedly made a bet with journalists that the country’s main opposition party would win the upcoming elections.

“I do not want to see İnan Kıraç involved in this. This seriously bothers me, and I do not find it fitting of him. But if the claims are true, then it means as a businessman, Kıraç is taking on a great risk,” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in an interview with the state-run broadcaster TRT late Wednesday.

“Involvement in such things is a serious risk for him, as a businessman with influence,” the prime minister said.

Cüneyt Arcayürek, a leading columnist for daily Cumhuriyet, wrote in his column a few days ago that he and Kıraç had made a bet on the polls. Arcayürek said Kıraç bet that the Republican People’s Party’s, or CHP, would emerge victorious in the general elections slated for June 12.

In a brief statement released Thursday, Kıraç described all the reports as “speculation” and said “he was sincerely disturbed by the baseless stories.”

“My conversation with journalists is about our personal observations,” he said, denying reports they were based on a reliable source.

Earlier, pro-government Taraf daily argued that Kıraç was conspiring against the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and was lobbying for a coalition government between the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP. Kıraç denied Taraf’s claims.

“Any businessman should not get involved in such things. But I would congratulate those who become involved for displaying their position openly,” he said.

Prominent businesspeople should not engage in such things, said the prime minister, “as they have to work with governments. Businesspeople cannot favor one party over another and should not risk doing such a thing. That’s why I’m saying this.”

[HH] Military appointments to be reviewed

The prime minister also responded to questions on the arrest of a senior military officer that has caused controversy between the government and the military. War Academy Commander Gen. Bilgin Balanlı was arrested Monday for allegedly planning to topple the government, becoming the highest-ranking officer arrested out of nearly 160 other military personnel. The arrests and ongoing prosecutions ruined the military’s plans to redesign the command structure in the Supreme Military Council, or YAŞ, meetings in August.

“We will make the necessary evaluations at the YAŞ meetings,” Erdoğan said, referring to the appointment of a new air forces commander. Balanlı was the strongest candidate for the post but he will not be open to nomination for the post due to his ongoing legal prosecution.

As for Balanlı, Erdoğan said the incident is now in the hands of the judiciary, and therefore it would not be right for him to comment on it due to the independence of the judiciary.

After the elections are over and the YAŞ meetings start, evaluations will be made regarding the matter, said the AKP head, and until then, “I do not find speculation right.”

The general was arrested on charges of plotting a coup on Monday as a suspect in the ongoing “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) case.

“I don’t want to think about military coups,” said the prime minister. “Such things are a part of history now. If we’re still talking about coups in Turkey today, then why do we even mention democracy?”

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