Like father, like son: Aides explain how to handle angry Erdoğan

Like father, like son: Aides explain how to handle angry Erdoğan

Like father, like son: Aides explain how to handle angry Erdoğan

Yalçın Akdoğan (L) was a key advisor to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) during the latter's term as prime minister.

Two confidantes have marked a first by speaking to the media about their personal relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, describing it in familial terms. 

“Sometimes you need to approach him like his son or his brother. It depends,” Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan said in an interview to daily Habertürk on April 26, when asked about how he calmed down Erdoğan when he was angry.

Akdoğan was a key advisor to Erdoğan during the latter's term as prime minister. 

“I addressed him as ‘Mr. Prime Minister’ or ‘Sir.’ Although our relationship was cordial, there has always been a certain distance. He is a serious person, but it doesn’t mean that he won’t make jokes with you,” he said.

Leader, comrade, elder brother

Meanwhile, another behind-the-scenes heavyweight of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) described his relationship with Erdoğan in similar words during an interview with daily Yeni Şafak on April 27.

When asked if Erdoğan is a leader, a comrade or an elder brother, Mücahit Arslan said, “Tayyip Bey is all of them for me,” addressing him with a Turkish honorific. 

“There is no difficulty in working with Tayyip Bey. It is very enjoyable to work with him,” he said.

Since meeting Erdoğan in the second half of the 1990s, Arslan has been one of the closest confidantes of Turkish president, according to the interview. He was also one of the co-founders of the AKP.

When asked if he was really the “box of secrets for Erdoğan,” Arslan replied, “This is said for everybody who works closely with Tayyip Erdoğan. Knowing a lot doesn’t always mean knowing secrets. Of course, we shared special information with Mr. President due to our personal relationship, but it does not mean that they were state secrets.”

Meeting with voters

In both interviews, Akdoğan and Arslan touched upon personal details, a rare move, coinciding with their newly launched campaigns to become AKP members of the parliament in the June 7 general elections.

Mücahit Arslan revealed in the interview that his first name, meaning “mujaheed” (one who engages in Jihad) in Turkish, was originally censored by the registrar after he was born, as it was banned by secular laws citing “reactionism,” which is a reference to Islamist extremism.

Yalçın Akdoğan, on the other hand, admitted he had read most about conservatism, human rights and philosophy of freedom in the 2000s, naming Rene Guenon and Seyyed Hossein Nasr as his favorite writers. 

“Now I’m reading about the solution process, the PKK (outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and terrorism,” he said, referring to Turkey’s ongoing Kurdish peace bid.

The Habertürk correspondent also asked if Akdoğan has ever read a book by the PKK’s jailed leader, Abdullah Öcalan. 

“I looked at some of them. There isn’t anything particularly original in his books,” Akdoğan replied, after stressing he had previously read “all the classic literature of Marxism and Leninism.”