Time ripe for talking about presidential vote, says Turkish President Gül
Eyüp CAN RADIKAL / KUWAIT CITY
Turkish President Gül is performing an official visit to Kuwait. DHA PhotoThe exact day to speak about everything concerning the upcoming presidential elections in Turkey has arrived, President Abdullah Gül has said, in remarks acknowledging that the March 30 local election had unofficially opened the way to the presidential vote in August.
The remarks by Gül to a group of journalists during an official visit to Kuwait yesterday came at a time when not only people in Turkey but also the international community and international market analysts are focused on the answer to the question as to whether the incumbent president of the country will run again or if Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be eyeing his own presidential bid after victory in the March 30 local elections.
In a veiled answer to a question as to whether he expected Erdoğan to make a surprise decision about his final intention for the presidential elections, Gül said the comradely relationship he had with Erdoğan would prevent both of them from being evasive to each other about a significant matter.
According to Gül, by the beginning of May, answers to all such questions about the presidential elections will become clear, as he apparently plans to hold talks with Erdoğan and senior ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) executives in the meantime.
A scenario that has already gained currency is that Gül will swap with Erdoğan and assume the prime minister’s seat in a formula inspired by the Medvedev-Putin swap in Russia.
When questioned about the content of his meeting with Erdoğan on March 31, Gül said it was aimed at making up for the regular weekly meetings that they had missed due to the intense election agenda.
Reminded of speculation that the next parliamentary elections scheduled for June 2015 could be held earlier, perhaps in conjunction with the presidential vote in August, Gül said he did not talk about the matter with Erdoğan during the pair’s March 31 meeting. Likewise, they did not touch upon their plans for August either, he indicated.
The August elections will be the first direct elections for Turkey’s head of state. Gül was elected in August 2007 following months of tension and controversy. His election became possible only after the AKP government narrowly escaped an intervention by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in 2007 when military forces issued a warning against the candidacy of then-Foreign Minister Gül, mainly because his spouse wears a headscarf, which is seen as an alarming symbol of fundamentalism by hyper-secularists in society.
In addition to the current state of affairs in bilateral relations with Kuwait, Gül also spoke about ongoing bans on access to both Twitter and YouTube. He urged authorities to find a solution to the issue by contacting their counterparts at related companies and to lift the bans. Below are excerpts from Gül’s interview:
Will you run for presidency?
When you were asking the same question for the last few years, each time, I said we would talk about it when the time is ripe. Since the local elections are over and the presidential vote is in August, the day for this has come. By the beginning of May, it will become clear. We will sit and talk and decide accordingly.
Will your candidacy also become clear at the same time?
The day on which everything about the presidency will be spoken of has come.
Will you be sitting and talking with the prime minister?
Of course and with my other friends too. I didn’t come to this office as an independent politician; I have friends to talk to.
Could Mr. Prime Minister initiate a law to hold parliamentary elections earlier and at the same as presidential elections, thus putting you in a difficult situation?
When I say, ‘We will sit and talk;’ I mean we will be talking about all of these. I mean, I will not hear of something like this from a newspaper.
From time to time, you speak of presence of a ‘law of fraternity’ with the prime minister. Taking this into consideration, are you sure that the prime minister will not take a step and make a surprise that will have an impact on your presidency?
Frankly, I would not do something like that to the prime minister and he would not do so either. We will talk on these kinds of issues.
Would you consider the prime ministry under available conditions?
I would not say anything beforehand. Let’s sit and talk first. A presidential election should not turn the entire country upside and down. I’m saying it in regards to keeping people’s agenda busy, but not in regards to its importance and preciousness.
There are strong suggestions that the prime minister may seek support from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in order to get elected in the first round of the presidential elections. What is your view?
What I will say is what I have just said: The day to talk about the presidency has arrived.
In the post-election process, counterparts in the tension surrounding corruption and bribery claims on one hand and “parallel structure” claims on the other hand seem likely to continue the tension as it is. Will politicians handle these issues within a legal framework or not?
All corruption claims should be investigated with no question mark remained, and the results should be revealed within the legal order. On the other issue; you speak about McCarthy witch-hunts. No such thing exists in a state governed by the rule of law. Those who commit crimes in such a state, should, however, face results within the rule of law. If there is a situation where one is victimized and faced a wrongdoing, then there are offices to appeal, such as it happened with [public servants who appealed to] the Council of State.
These are not issues which would be subject to rallies every day. Not because I’m saying that elections are over and everything is settled down, however, Turkey cannot continue living like this.
In such a country which is ruled by law, can a minister or governor orders police chiefs not to implement prosecutors’ instructions?
What I’m saying is that a person committing crime has to be responded. Let’s take the incident at the Foreign Ministry [Leak of audio recordings of a top security meeting on Syria]. All of these have to be revealed.
Was the latest incident and eavesdropping from inside?
As a founder of the ruling party who made contributions to the reform process in its first decade in power, how do you consider today’s situation?
Everybody wasted their energy for the elections. Now, we should show that that what we experienced was temporary.
The bans [on Twitter and YouTube] should end. The former law related to these issues which was approved in 2007 was problematic. Healthy channels should be formed. There are problems in the U.K. and France, too, but they have healthy channels. When things which you would not tolerate if they had happened to you are taking place, then you should immediately get in touch and provide a response. The new law is for this and now they have representatives [Twitter and YouTube] in Turkey. Twitter says it has started to respond.
‘No ban in Kuwait, life begins at night’
Turkey’s President Abdullah Gül has expressed his content over the state of affairs regarding bilateral relations between his country and Kuwait, as he also displayed his knowledge about cultural and humane aspects of the country to which he paid an official visit.
“Here they call it souk, which means bazaar. It is very lively. Life begins at night here and it is like our Beyoğlu, Taksim. Here, everything is free. The first assembly of the Gulf region is here and they have quite the authority. They are able to block laws. Women are active in business life and they are also present at the National Assembly,” Gül told a group of journalists during his visit to Kuwait on April 2.
“The most important financial center of the Middle East is here and they have found a $500 million investment fund concerning Turkey,” Gül said, underlining the importance attached to the entire Gulf region by Turkey.
“The U.S. is also attributing importance. As there is around four-five million dollars of cash money, everybody is trying to attract it. We are also deciding upon how to attract it. That’s why; we brought leading businesspeople with our delegation. There is an important airport tender, Inshallah [God willing] we will win it,” the president added.
He explained how Kuwait has been interested in doing business with Turkey’s defense industry, how children of the Amir recently bought a bank in Turkey, how around six-eight thousand Kuwaiti people have already bought property in Turkey, how there are eight flights a day to Turkey during the summer and that Turkish soap operas are popular in Kuwait.
“A majority of people here admire Turkey. We came here to strengthen friendship with a country that has such sympathy and interest for Turkey. They have been insistent,” Gül said.