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MURAT YETKİN >Silence leads to rumors

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Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç denied reports on June 20 that he had resigned from his post in the heat of the Taksim protests, after a quarrel with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan. The rumors suggested he could only be convinced by President Abdullah Gül to remain in his chair.

He made the statement after Taraf newspaper – without giving any references – ran the story. It had been widely rumored in the political circles of Ankara and business circles of Istanbul for the last few days anyway. According to the rumors, some of which were written in the Taraf story, Erdoğan had asked Arınç to calm down the protesters and bring the whole thing under control before he returned from his pre-planned trip to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. But when he heard, or watched live on a tablet in Tunisia, that Arınç admitted that it was the excessive use of force by the police in the first days of the Taksim protests that caused things to go “crazy,” Erdoğan became upset. Upon his return, which turned into a challenge to protesters with his "airport welcoming" and subsequent demonstrations, Erdoğan told Arınç in the first Cabinet meeting that he was wrong to admit that the police had overstepped the mark, as it was a simple fact that “interest rate lobbies” and “foreign powers” were behind the protest. That was the point where Arınç walked out of the room and could only be convinced to return after a telephone call from Erdoğan following in-Cabinet diplomatic moves orchestrated by President Gül and contributed to by a number of ministers, including Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Education Minister Nabi Avcı. It is this story that was categorically denied by Arınç yesterday and denounced as a “strife” between himself and the prime minister as long time partners.

Arınç is one of the most influential figures of the 11-year rule of the AK Party. He was actually a member of the triumvirate - along with Erdoğan and Gül - that founded the party back in 2001.

Another story in Taraf newspaper yesterday was big enough to shake politics in every country, written in a column by a former security expert and again without any reference, which is perhaps the reason that it was not echoed much in the Turkish media, (which is anyway not exactly enjoying its golden age). The story claims that the same officer of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) who was involved in a bombing case two years ago in the eastern town of Güroymak - in which 11 people, six of whom were civilians, were killed - was later appointed to the town of Reyhanlı on the Syrian border and was on duty when two car bombs went off last month, killing 53. Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay, when asked by reporters, said it was the duty of the “institution involved” to answer that question, but there was no official comment from MİT, nor from the Prime Ministry which the intelligence agency is directly under, as the HDN went to press.

Silence by the governments, especially at times like this when social sensitivities are high, is not enough to kill rumors. On the contrary, it may feed them further. Transparency could be the cure for this problem in democratic life.

June/21/2013

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