No pressure exerted on lawmakers over corruption vote: Turkish PM Davutoğlu
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) meets with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (L) at Downing Street in central London on Jan. 20, 2015. AFP PhotoTurkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has rejected claims that ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers were pressured to vote against sending four former ministers to the country's top court, stressing that it was "only natural" for AKP deputies to vote differently.
“Different opinions and attitudes inside the AK Party [AKP] during the voting actually indicates our respect for the judicial process. There was no pressure on any of our lawmakers, and that is as it should be,” Davutoğlu told reporters in London, in his first assessment of the Jan. 20 vote that acquitted all four former ministers of corruption charges.
The prime minister stressed the result of the vote "clearly shows the AKP’s unity against plots and coup attempts," but also said those who voted differently from the party line "showed the natural flow of the process."
“If everyone in the AK Party had voted in the same way, [the opposition] would say ‘The AK Party violated laws, it pressured lawmakers.’ But the AK Party did the correct thing from the legal and ethical perspective. We will continue to obey precedent and respect the rules,” he said.
For Davutoğlu, the corruption probe into four former ministers launched on Dec. 17, 2013 was part of a concerted "coup attempt" against the government, which saw the intelligence agency’s trucks raided on Jan. 19, 2014 and massive eavesdropping on government officials. He said that parliament's acquittal of the four former ministers "nixed this coup attempt against the government."
Trip to London was prearranged
Davutoğlu has been the subject of criticism for not cancelling his trip to London to be present during the vote, but he said it was not right to link the two.
“If the parliamentary panel report was completed last week and put to a vote, then I would have been in Ankara and voted. I would also vote if the vote were to take place next week,” he added.
Harsh response to Kılıçdaroğlu
Meantwhile, Davutoğlu responded to Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who slammed the prime minister for falsely accusing him of defending the reprinting of a cartoon featuring Prophet Muhammad.
“My position is clear. If a newspaper publishes a cartoon at the expense of insulting the values of our people without paying attention to the public’s sensitivity to the matter, and if Kılıçdaroğlu calls this newspaper a day after, then there is an open stance. Without the need for my own comment, it shows the support Kılıçdaroğlu pledges to this newspaper,” Davutoğlu said.
Kılıçdaroğlu had described Davutoğlu’s accusations against him as an “ignominious lie,” but the prime minister responded by saying the CHP head's own behavior was "ignominious."
“Ignominious refers to how he became the CHP chairman. He should better examine this and he will know,” he said, in reference to the resignation of former CHP leader Deniz Baykal following the release of a video showing him in flagrante delicto with a female CHP lawmaker.