POLITICS > Turkish PM Erdoğan says those who target him through graft probe will not succeed

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet

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PM Erdoğan announced a wide cabinet reshuffle on Dec. 25 after a meeting with President Gül. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

PM Erdoğan announced a wide cabinet reshuffle on Dec. 25 after a meeting with President Gül. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the real target of the graft probe is himself, while emphasizing that those who aim at him will not succeed. 

“If they try to aim at Tayyip Erdoğan through this, they will [be left empty-handed]. They know it and that’s why they are attacking [the ministers],” Erdoğan was quoted as saying by daily Hürriyet when answering the question on whether he was the “target of the operation.”

The interior, economy and environment ministers who were facing bribery and corruption allegations resigned yesterday hours before Erdoğan announced a large cabinet reshuffle which included 10 changes on minister portfolios. 

Erdoğan told a group of reporters during a return flight from Pakistan on Dec. 24 that the “operation” was targeting him through the Service for Youth and Education Foundation of Turkey (TÜRGEV), an NGO which counts the prime minister’s son, Bilal Erdoğan, among its board members. He implied that TÜRGEV was being investigated for requesting amendments on the construction plans of a building with the approval of Istanbul’s Fatih Municipality. 

Erdoğan said the specific building managed by TÜRGEV had been rented by the municipality as a student residence.
“Is there any municipality that does not carry out social work? The municipality constructs student residences, then rents it for 25 years. You cannot say anything about it,” Erdoğan said. 
“That place is a student residence, not Bilal Erdoğan’s hotel. They want to reach me via TÜRGEV. My son is on [TÜRGEV’s] board of management. [Fatih Mayor] Mustafa Demir and the mayor of the Ümraniye district are also on the board. My eldest daughter Esra is on its board. That place is a student residence and they take a lot of pride in it,” Erdoğan said. 
Demir was briefly detained last week under the probe on accusations of approving the construction license for a hotel near the route of the recently inaugurated Marmaray railway, despite warnings from Japanese engineers that the construction could put the tunnel at risk of collapsing. Demir is being investigated for ordering the ministry report to be shelved in exchange for bribes. The fraud suspicions led to the examination of all the municipality’s transactions within the investigation, according to reports.
‘Bags may contain books’
Erdoğan also commented about Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-origin young businessman who is considered as the key suspect in the investigation, particularly regarding his transfer of gold and money to Iran via Turkey’s government-controlled Halkbank. 
“He is an individual who makes gold exports. I know he contributes to our country and participates in charity," he said.
Zarrab is also accused to have bribed EU Minister Egemen Bağış for a personal affair. Last week, footage emerged showing Zarrab entering Bağış’s office with bags and going out empty-handed.
“They say he entered the EU Ministry’s Office with bags, but then left without them. Is there any footage showing him handing the bags off? Can it be an approach based only on that he entered the office with bags, but went out without it? Can there be such justice? Maybe the bags contained books or something else,” Erdoğan said.  
He also defended Halkbank chief executive Süleyman Aslan, describing him as “honest person.” Aslan was charged with taking bribes by the prosecutors while the police are said to reportedly have found $4.5 million in cash stored in shoe boxes in Aslan’s home. 
The sons of former Interior Minister Muammer Güler and the former Economy Minister’s Zafer Çağlayan, Barış Güler and Kaan Çağlayan, were also charged with acting as intermediaries for giving and taking bribes and put under formal arrest on Dec. 21. Former Environment and Urban Planning Minister’s Erdoğan Bayraktar’s son was among those released pending trial.
This high-level graft probe has shaken the government, forcing Erdoğan to make a larger Cabinet reshuffle than what he reportedly had planned ahead of the March 2014 local elections.


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Notice on comments

Ali Hasbay

12/29/2013 12:35:06 AM

This man is the best in whitewashing the untrue and lie

Nikos K.

12/27/2013 11:32:27 AM

I would say the graft probe is actually a sex scandal! The bags may contain vibrators!!! I mean the guys are supposed to be conservatives, therefore they 'd have to be discreet with their fetishes. LOL

khalid krahim

12/27/2013 10:46:04 AM

Brother and sister, Turkey economic achievement is definitely in eye of Europe and Germany/Greece and they will not accept you and will never wish to grow and become economic giant. Who ever govern Turkish people may look 30 years back of turkey and current turkey. I wish to best of luck and be aware of your real hidden enemy. Khalid from pakistan

An Observer

12/27/2013 8:58:40 AM

'There can be no whitewash at the White House'. (R.M.Nixon 1973) History repeating itself...

turk oz

12/27/2013 4:00:54 AM

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is nothing but a FARCE.. A liar and deceitful person. Damn the George Bush and his foreign minister. The outsiders caused so much hurt to this great country called Turkey. It is a shame...

Mark Smith

12/26/2013 11:15:17 PM

"..I know he (Reza Zarrab, an Iranian - surprise!) contributes to our country and participates in charity," he (Erdogan) said." I am concerned the change in the definition of 'Charity' in Turkey to 'Erdogan, his family members and associated cronies' may confuse those who in future may wish to contribute to a 'real' Charity.

two sides to every coin

12/26/2013 10:35:05 PM

This is all a smoke screen, the economy is in total melt down, and what little the Turkish people do know, AKP are making sure the economy is not front page news. RTE would bankrupt this country before he admits his party have been thieving for decades, and himself involved in much of it.

Jan Dirk

12/26/2013 9:32:28 PM

There is an wise old Persian saying that; " A lie travels quicker from Baghdad to Damascus that the truth can find it's shoes" . In Turkey's case, the truth may have been in a shoe-box.

ilker avni

12/26/2013 8:34:08 PM

@John Albay You forgot that Erdogan called us Turkish Cypriots parasites,well now Erdogan the Magnifiscent has decided to sell out the TRNC after four decades of peace,the spring sell of by the magnifiscent erdogan, is to get rich quick, at our expense,thats why his family have been buying turkish property, like its airport.A single soverignty means uniforcation.Back to 1960.

Landos Landos

12/26/2013 7:28:06 PM

Morsi said the same thing. Adios, Tayyip.
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