In the wake of an interview

In the wake of an interview

The deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Hüseyin Çelik, posted a tweet about my interview with the president’s chief advisor, Ahmet Sever, which was published the other day, saying: “Today, Ruşen Çakır’s interview with Ahmet Sever seems to have excited journalists. Actually, nothing is new.”

Just as it was natural that the interview would excite some of my colleagues, it would also have been extraordinary if some politicians, especially from the ruling party, were not excited. As a matter of fact, in the tweets he posted one after the other, Çelik betrays traces of this excitement. This is because, contrary to his claim, there were many new things in the interview.

It is not difficult to understand that President Abdullah Gül was annoyed by the steps the ruling party was taking regarding the length of his term and his ability to be elected for a second time, and also by statements made by certain prominent figures. Seen from that point of view, Sever told us only what we already knew, or at least what we guessed, and did not surprise us. However, it was a new and surprising phenomenon that Gül, who had been quiet until now, chose to express his annoyance, reproaches and complaints, albeit indirectly via his spokesman.

Will Gül become a candidate?

I have to admit I was surprised when Çelik tweeted the other day: “According to the Constitutional Court’s decision, Gül can indeed run again. However, it is two different things for a thing to be possible and for it to occur.”

Çelik, who joined in the founding of the AKP by resigning from the True Path Party (DYP), has been known as a person close to Gül.

It seems as if a consensus has formed that Gül will not use his right to run for office again, even if he wishes to. If [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan is determined to ascend to the Çankaya Presidential Mansion, then we can easily say that Gül will not run for office again.

However, there are two years ahead [before the presidential election], and even if the harmony betwen Gül and Erdoğan is maintained, there could be serious changes in the country, the region and the world, and these two politicians may decide to continue on their paths as they are today. In short, even though the chances of Gül’s running for office for a second time are low, it is not out of the question.

What gesture?
Çelik, after posting his tweets, which made us journalists more excited, made much calmer and careful comments on NTV’s live broadcast. In that interview he said “Now is the time for Gül to make a gesture,” and this appeared in the headlines. Çelik said Erdoğan had made a gesture to Gül by not running as a presidential candidate in 2007, and that now Gül needs to reciprocate this gesture.

However, those who are aware of what went on in 2007 know that no “gesture” was made then. İn the words of one of the witnesses of that time, Ahmet Sever: “Actually he did not want the presidency very much. He was obliged to run for office.” This is absolutely correct. So much so, that it was expected that under normal circumstances Erdoğan would ascend to Çankaya and Gül would take over the prime ministry.

Something happened, though, and Erdoğan decided not to run for office and made Gül, whom he referred to as his “brother,” a candidate. Then came the April 27 e-memorandum, and early general elections. After all this, Gül, who had started his presidential journal unwillingly, turned out to be quite competent. However, he has since been unexpectecly exposed to intense suggestions that he should give up the idea of running for office again.

Consequently, in 2007, Gül became the president after quite a troubled and tense process, with many ups and downs. To put it differently, I don’t think we can talk about a “gesture” there. Nonetheless, in the event that Erdoğan is determined to ascend to Çankaya, we can no doubt say that Gül will not block his path.

Ruşen Çakır is a columnist for daily Vatan, in which this piece was published on Aug. 1. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.