Turkish labor minister passes the buck to energy minister over Soma disaster
Labor Minister Faruk Çelik (L) and Energy Minister Taner Yıldız during the rescue operations at the Soma mine. AA Photo
Labor Minister Faruk Çelik, who has been slammed by the opposition over the Soma mining disaster, said May 20 that his ministry was not the responsible party, instead pointing the finger at Energy Minister Taner Yıldız, who actively coordinated the search and rescue operation.
“If there is political responsibility, then we can sit and talk about it, talk about who is responsible. Mines are not related to me. Our ministry’s assignment about mines is limited to controls. The mines themselves, their licensing, and their execution is completely linked to the Energy Ministry,” Çelik told daily Cumhuriyet, after last week’s accident that killed 301 workers.
“There is a campaign to say that ‘One is good, one is bad,’” Çelik added, referring to the praise heaped on Energy Minister Taner Yıldız, who was at the scene of the disaster from day one, in contrast with Çelik, who was criticized for not being present. Çelik announced that he did not go to Soma on day one as he was suffering from an illness.
Turkey is still reeling itself from the largest ever mining disaster in its history, and Çelik said he was ready to step down if an ounce of failure is ascribed to his ministry.
“We are ready for accountability if there is a claim that we did not do our job right. I am in charge of the checks on those mines. If there is one percent of failure, I will step down,” he said.
Çelik said his ministry was very rigorous in its checks, and stressed that eight checks of the Soma mine had recently been conducted and problems were solved.
“Mines are living organisms. The situation might differ even an hour after the checks,” he said.
Çelik also called on the country to review its energy policy.
“We need to reconsider Turkey’s energy problem. I, as the labor minister, say that coal mines should be shut down. Germany and France have shut them down already, but Turkey has continued with them since 1848,” he said. “I’ve been saying this from the start.”