WASHINGTON – Hürriyet
Bülent Arınç makes a speech at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington on Nov. 22. AA photo
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has provided assurances that the rift between himself and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
over mixed-gender student housing has been settled, while confirming that he will continue to act as the government’s spokesperson.
Arınç said a public appeal to Erdoğan to clarify why the latter had made a statement regarding the government’s plans to prevent university students from living in mixed-sex accommodation – even though it contradicted what Arınç had told the press – had been met.
“I made a demand in a very sincere way through a TV channel. [Erdoğan] met my demand. Please leave [the details about] how he met it and what we did about it to us. I am now pursuing my functions,” Arınç said during a speech at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington on Nov. 22.
Arınç said he had been engaged in politics with Erdoğan for many years and that differences of perspectives on some issues, such as the co-ed housing case, were normal.
“We founded [the ruling Justice and Development Party – AKP] together, we brought it to success together. We have stood through tough days. But we can always have differences when it comes to doing politics, relationships with people or looking at issues from different viewpoints,” Arınç said, stressing that this did not mean they disagreed on principles.
“One can be more lenient ... while the other is more peremptory and authoritative. Maybe one can try to develop empathy with the other side. But this cannot be more than an issue that we can solve by mutually talking about it,” Arınç said.
The rift between the prime minister and his deputy emerged after Erdoğan announced that measures would be taken to prevent co-ed housing even though Arınç said no such plan was under consideration.
Arınç, who is one of the AKP’s most important figures together with Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül, then expressed his public displeasure with Erdoğan’s stance.
“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. The prime minister is normally careful about this,” Arınç told public broadcaster TRT on Nov. 8, raising speculation about Erdoğan’s possible reaction.
Arınç said it was normal that a party in power for 11 years passed through such rifts.
“I don’t know if there can be an English translation to this, but in [Turkish] they say, ‘The face wears off.’ You might like someone a lot, but he is in front of you every day. That’s why, in order to prevent my face from wearing off more, I will quit politics in 1.5 years,” Arınç said, repeating his intention to retire after the 2015 general elections.
Following the rift, Arınç accompanied Erdoğan during a much-anticipated rally in Diyarbakır
last weekend, which also drew Kurdish Iraqi leader Masoud Barzani and leading Kurdish musicians.