Israel behind coup to oust Morsi, Turkish PM Erdoğan says
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. DHA photo
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan went back on the warpath Aug.20, accusing one of Ankara’s most prominent bogeymen, Israel, of complicity in overthrowing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi while telling critics to find dictatorship not in Turkey, but in today’s Egypt.
“Who is behind [the coup]? There is Israel,” Erdoğan told a meeting of party leaders. “We have document in our hands,” he said, citing an open session between a Jewish intellectual from France and an Israeli justice minister before the first free elections in Egypt held in March 2011.
As he was delivering multilayered messages concerning both foreign and domestic policy at the meeting, Erdoğan furthermore maintained that those who have been accusing the government of autocratic governance in Turkey should actually look at Egypt, where the coup rulers have been acting dictatorially. “If you want to see a dictator, go ahead, go to Egypt,” he said.
In an apparent reference to moves to topple his government at the time, Erdoğan recalled that Turkey had experienced coup attempts and undemocratic practices. “Here, at this moment, there are those who want to float again the West’s understanding which says ‘Democracy is not the ballot box,’ or ‘Democracy is not only the ballot box.’ But we say that democracy’s path passes through the ballot box and the ballot box itself is the people’s will. At the moment, this is what is being implemented in Egypt.”
“What do they say in Egypt? They say that ‘Democracy is not the ballot box.’”
Erdoğan refers to Bernard-Henri Levy: Claim
A source later told the Associated Press that the evidence on Israel that Erdoğan was referring to was a video “available on the Internet” of a press conference by Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and French philosopher and author Bernard-Henri Levy.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that as far as he knew, that was the only evidence of the claim. A video of the two, dating back to 2011, shows Levy saying: “If the Muslim Brotherhood arrives in Egypt, I will not say democracy wants it, so let democracy progress. Democracy is not only elections, it is also values.”
Pressed further as to whether he would urge Egypt’s military to intervene against the Muslim Brotherhood, Levy said: “I will urge the prevention of them coming to power, but by all sorts of means.”
“‘The Muslim Brotherhood will not be in power even if they win the elections, because democracy is not the ballot box.’ This is what they said at that time,” Erdoğan said.
In Israel, the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, said Erdoğan’s comments did not merit a response. “This is a statement well worth not commenting on.” Turkey has been one of the fiercest international critics of what it has called an “unacceptable coup” after the military toppled Morsi last month, lashing out at the West and Arab nations for failing to condemn his ouster.
Touching on the run-up to the upcoming local elections in March 2014, Erdoğan firstly underlined the need for party executives at all level of branches to dedicate themselves to work for the upcoming local elections, instead of focusing on their own political career.
“Thirty metropolitan cities constitute 76 percent. With this aspect, we have to see how important are the votes we will get from these 30 metropolitan cities,” he said, referring to the fact that the number of metropolitan municipalities rose from 16 to 30 after a controversial law on restructuring municipalities was adopted in late 2012 despite strong objection from the opposition parties.