Deputy PM admits rift with PM over co-ed housing statements
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said he should not be neglected as he is “not any minister in the Cabinet as he has special duties as the government spokesperson.” DHA photo
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has admitted his remarks seeking to negate the prime minister’s harsh stance toward mixed-gender student housing arrangements lays bare a contradiction, adding that the premier should clarify the rift.
“I want to call out to our prime minister as a friend and a brother of his: There is an obvious contradiction between my statement and his speech as the prime minister. It is expected of him that he will clarify that contradiction, for yesterday, today and tomorrow,” he said during a live interview with broadcaster TRT Türk on Nov. 8 in Belgrade.
Arınç said he should not be neglected as he is “not any minister in the Cabinet as he has special duties as the government spokesperson.”
The rift between the prime minister and his deputy stems from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks on student houses.
“It’s not clear what is going on in these places. They are all mixed up, anything can happen. As a conservative democratic government, we have to intervene,” Erdoğan told a parliamentary group meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Nov. 5, one day before Arınç said the government had no plans in place for students currently sharing mixed private houses.
“I have specific weight. I’m not a minister who only occupies a position. I’m someone who represents the party’s thoughts, opinions for the past, today and the future. I shouldn’t be neglected,” Arınç said in the interview.
“The prime minister is normally careful about this. It’s at least rightful to share,” he said. “I remember how much he attaches importance to this in his private life. However, we all make mistakes from time to time,” he added.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said, noting that he did not have regrets in his remarks as he only said what he knows about a different aspect of the issue.
He said if the prime minister had expressed his opinions at a different time and in a different way, nobody would have noticed the contradiction between the two comments and that the contrast would only have been perceived as a difference of opinions, but added: “As there were around 12 hours between them, there was a contradiction.”
Arınç also said he completely agreed with the prime minister over his opinion regarding the issue, but said his pledge to introduce legal regulations and engage local authorities on the matter was unpleasant.
He said the issue about the student houses should be perceived from the prism of trying to prevent parents and children from experiencing things they might regret later in life and that some neighbors might be bothered by the noise and crowds in the houses.
However, he said not everything could be regarded as a crime even if it contradicts “social rules” or “general customs.”
“I think our prime minister intends to say these while doting on our children, but I think it’s not nice of him to say we will make legal arrangements for this, and a governor jumping in to take it upon himself is not right,” he said.
AKP spokeperson downplays Arınç's 'resentment'
Meanwhile, AKP Deputy Chair Hüseyin Çelik, also a party spokesperson, downplayed Arınç’s remarks, portraying such disagreements as a natural thing that can happen between close friends.
After an anchorman on private broadcaster NTV described Arınç’s remarks as a reflection of “resentment,” Çelik recalled a Turkish idiom, saying “Resentment comes out of love.”
“Arınç is an extremely precious figure and a very precious elder brother,” he said, adding that nobody should “exaggerate” the incident as sign of division within the party.
Describing the AKP as a party where “common sense” and a “culture of consultation and discussion” are dominant, Çelik said it would have been- better if Arınç had not publicly made such statements but instead expressed them to Erdoğan in a private meeting.
“This is something that happens between friends,” he said.