Turkey's Deputy PM trashes Ankara mayor after call to quit
Deputy PM Arınç (C) is seen at an inauguration in Ankara with Mayor Gökçek (L3). Hürriyet photo
Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has declared that Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek is corrupt and has "no manners," in an unusually frank speech amid intra-government clashes, hours after the latter called for his resignation.
Gökçek “has sat in the lap” of the Gülen movement, Arınç claimed, referring to the movement that has been targeted by the government since the huge graft probe broke late in 2013.
“He has sold Ankara to this structure plot by plot,” Arınç said, adding that he was ready to “reveal the mayor’s wrongdoings,” but only after the June 7 elections in order to avoid causing any harm to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
He also accused Gökçek of trying to secure a spot for his son in the upcoming elections.
Deputy Prime Minister Arınç said he wanted to avoid further comment for the sake of Gökçek’s wife, Nevin Gökçek, “who I and my wife respect and adore.”
His remarks came hours after Gökçek called on Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to dismiss Arınç for engaging in a war of words with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the Kurdish peace process.
Gökçek accused Arınç, one of the founders of the AKP along with Erdoğan, of “serving” the movement of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.
“Arınç can no longer be the spokesperson of the AK Party. He cannot represent us. What Arınç must do from now on is to resign first from his job as spokesperson, and then from his seat in the government,” Gökçek said via his Twitter account.
Gökçek argued that Arınç would not resign voluntarily, as he has been instructed to work by the “parallel structure” so it should be the government’s duty to unseat him. “Bülent Arınç: We don’t want you,” he tweeted.
The Ankara mayor said he was always curious about the latest blow that the “parallel structure” would strike against the AKP.
'Hit us from inside'
“I must confess that I did not think they would hit us from inside. They did it through Bülent Arınç. Everybody regarded Arınç’s statements as the government’s view. But Arınç’s statements have nothing to do with the government,” he said.
Arınç recently openly criticized Erdoğan over his interventions into government affairs, which some say has tarnished the government’s credibility in the eyes of the public during the run-up to parliamentary elections in June.
In his first direct reference to the ongoing row between him and the government spokesperson, Erdoğan said he was using his right to criticize in the name of the state and the country.
The president also defended his right to make suggestions on the peace process, stressing his contribution to the Kurdish issue for the past 12 years.
“The one who is just the carrier of the post could not understand us. The one who cares about cheap heroism could not understand us. We’ll resolve this case with our government and state without involving personal matters,” Erdoğan said.
“If I am opposing or drawing attention to some mistakes, I do it as a person who is aware of what has taken place so far. I do it by drawing attention to the ‘parallel structure,’” he added. The parallel structure was in cooperation with “some circles,” Erdoğan also claimed, without giving any further details.