Turkish PM’s walkout heats up judiciary row in Ankara
Erdoğan’s reaction came just a day after he stormed out the Council of State’s 146th anniversary because of Turkish Bar Association head Metin Feyzioğlu’s one-hour speech that contained criticisms of his government. AA PhotoPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he will no longer attend the official ceremonies of judicial bodies if the head of the bar association is allowed to deliver a speech, hinting at a legal amendment to change procedures after a heated verbal exchange on May 10.
Erdoğan’s reaction came just a day after he stormed out the Council of State’s 146th anniversary because of Turkish Bar Association (TBB) head Metin Feyzioğlu’s one-hour speech that contained criticisms of his government.
“We are disturbed that these annual ceremonies turn into rituals where politicians are slammed by this mentality. We are going to talk about it in the coming days and we’ll set a method. And as long as I am in this position, I will never attend events where these kinds of people deliver speeches,” Erdoğan said in his closing address to his Justice and Development Party (AKP) congress.
Turkish politics witnessed a first on May 10 as Erdoğan interrupted Feyzioğlu’s speech, standing up and heckling the TBB head before walking out. The prime minister accused the head of the bar association of distorting reality and of being rude and disrespectful to state protocol.
Apart from Erdoğan, a number of government and party officials as well as some pro-government civil society organizations also reacted against Feyzioğlu, with Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ claiming the head of the bar association was trying to become the opposition’s presidential candidate.
In his initial remarks on May 10, Erdoğan asked Feyzioğlu to take off his robe if he wants to run for politics. His messages on May 11, however, were tougher than that.
Accusing Feyzioğlu of turning the event into an opportunity for him to scold the government just like in the “old Turkey,” where the elected government was under military and judicial tutelage, Erdoğan said: “These days are over. There are no longer cowardly prime ministers and ministers in front of you. We have been brought to these positions by the people. No one appointed can dare lecture us.”
Feyzioğlu’s speech ran longer than an hour and full of political issues varying from Turkey’s national defense companies to the European Union, from the arts to the victims of the Van earthquake, Erdoğan said, underlining that giving the floor to the head of the bar association at such ceremonies was “illegal.” The prime minister also said the information Feyzioğlu gave in his speech was completely incorrect.
“He was at the rostrum of the Council of State and not at the CHP’s convention. Believe me, I was puzzled as to whether we were at the CHP convention or at the Council of State,” he said.
‘Berkin Elvan’s pockets were full of explosives’
One of the issues Feyzioğlu mentioned in his speech was the killing of 14-year-old Berkin Elvan and other victims of last year’s Gezi Park demonstrations. Erdoğan harshly criticized Feyzioğlu for commemorating the Gezi victims and argued that Elvan was not innocent because he was wearing a mask and his pockets were full of explosives when he was shot by police. “But you know; this ‘certain’ media writes [he was killed when] he was going to buy bread. Going to buy bread wearing a mask and with explosives? Everything is crystal clear,” he said, criticizing Feyzioğlu for exploiting the deaths of those killed by police during the protests. “I ask you: why do not you mention Burakcan [Karamanoğlu], who was victimized in Okmeydanı? Because he was not involved in terror,” he said, in reference to a man who was killed in an altercation on the night of Elvan’s funeral.
Erdoğan also mentioned Turan Feyzioğlu, the father of the head of the bar association, who was a politician and lawmaker from the CHP in 1970s. The prime minister said Turan Feyzioğlu was among the deputies who supported the executions of three leftist revolutionaries in the early 1970s. “You’d better settle this first. This is this CHP mentality that caused all of these pains,” Erdoğan said.
Feyzioğlu makes defense
Speaking to reporters late May 10, Feyzioğlu defended his speech and stressed it was not a political one, adding that Erdoğan’s advice to him “to take off his robe if he wants to make politics” had already expired.
Feyzioğlu also criticized the Council of State’s head, Zerrin Güngör, who slammed his speech in a written statement late May 10. “I will not enter into an argument. If she read my speech once again, she would see that it’s not a political one. But she should read it in an objective way,” he said.
Recalling that Erdoğan insulted him by saying “liar and rude,” Feyzioğlu said he was expecting a similar statement from the head of the Council of State to question the language Erdoğan used at the ceremony.
Feyzioğlu also said he was not planning to sue Erdoğan over the insults. “Although I do not approve this, I don’t find suing the prime minister of my country a right thing.”
Similarly, Erdoğan had stormed out of the World Economic Forum panel on the Gaza war on Jan. 29, 2009, by protesting the moderator while trying to stop his intervention, yelling “One minute” and slamming the fellow debater Israeli President Shimon Peres who spoke longer than Turkey's Prime Minister did.