EU officials disturbed, convinced about ‘parallel state’: PM Erdoğan

EU officials disturbed, convinced about ‘parallel state’: PM Erdoğan

EU officials disturbed, convinced about ‘parallel state’: PM Erdoğan

PM Erdogan and European parliament president Martin Schulz gave a press conference after a meeting at the European Parliament in Brussels, on January 21. AA Photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he hopes he has now convinced European officials about the existence of a “parallel structure” within the state that aimed to damage the government through graft probes.

“I told them about the parallel structure. After giving them some examples, they were very disturbed, too. I think that they have been convinced,” Erdoğan told reporters during a flight back from Brussels late Jan. 21 after meeting EU President Herman van Rompuy, European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso and European Parliament leader Martin Schulz.

Statements following the critical meetings were softer than many expected, with top EU officials affirming that Erdoğan had given them reassurances that the government’s controversial judicial bill following the graft scandal would not undermine the independence of the judiciary.

“For example, there are 25 sacks [containing investigation files] in the second wave [of the graft probe]. The prosecutor gives detention orders without opening them. The method of selection of the businessmen is also interesting. They are primarily those who participated in the consortiums [that will build Istanbul’s] third bridge and third airport,” Erdoğan told the group of journalists that accompanied him to Brussels.

Erdoğan also said European officials admitted that there were different practices in different member countries toward their respective judiciaries.

“I asked them if they had an EU standard. [I said] no, Spain, France, the Netherlands are different. They all said yes,” Erdoğan said.

He also touched on the nationwide Gezi Park Resistance during which the police’s severe crackdown sparked an international outcry.

“They know Gezi incorrectly. There is the issue of cutting down 15 trees, but there is also a government that has planted 2.5 times as many trees. Nobody can compete on environmentalism. I tell them, ‘Do you know about this?’ I gave them examples about Frankfurt and Hamburg and said that ‘our [police] did not do more than that.’ They did not say anything.”

Erdoğan’s latest visit marked his first to the EU capital since 2009 and came after the opening of the first chapter in accession negotiations in the last two-and-a-half years.