‘New Turkey’ vows to embrace all, except ‘parallel state’

‘New Turkey’ vows to embrace all, except ‘parallel state’

A “new Turkey” is emerging as the top two posts of the country change hands and vow to embrace all citizens, but the fight against members of the so called “parallel state,” the term used by the ruling party to describe members of Fethullah Gülen movement, will continue on.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will take the presidential oath today to become the country’s first president elected by popular vote, while Ahmet Davutoğlu was elected as the new leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) yesterday. Erdoğan will task Davutoğlu with forming the new government and he is expected to assume the prime minister’s post next week.

Yesterday’s convention was a farewell to Erdoğan, as well as a welcome ceremony for Davutoğlu. The outgoing and incoming prime ministers’ speeches had similarities, as they both had an embracing tone for the people of Turkey - including the opposition - though not for the “parallel state.”

“On my last day as the prime minister, in my last minutes as leader of the AKP, I offer my hand to each and every one of the 77 million [people in Turkey], whether they love us or not,” Erdoğan said in his speech. He directly addressed the opposition, asking them to have empathy.

“I offer my hand in the name of my party, in the name of my government, in the name of the movement I lead. I say: ‘We understand you very well, we understand your lifestyles, values. We know your demands, desires.’ And we want you to understand us, understand how we came to this point, what difficulties we have faced,” Erdoğan said, adding, “We want to consider this day as a festival of our democracy, make peace and hug with 77 million [people], create a unity of hearts under the flag of the Turkish Republic.”

Davutoğlu gave a similar message. “In our Turkey, nobody will be labeled 'the other' for any reason. Equal citizenship will be our fundamental principle,” the new AKP leader said.

But Erdoğan and Davutoğlu both sang the same tune when it came to the issue of the “parallel state,” promising to eradicate the Gülenists from state institutions in a revengeful tone.

The followers of Fethullah Gülen have been targeted by Erdoğan and members of the ruling party since the corruption probes were launched last December, which the ruling party believes aimed at toppling the government. Many police officers involved in those probes were detained on charges of illegal wiretapping, while some were arrested and thousands more in the police force and judiciary reshuffled.

Erdoğan and Davutoğlu both said the fight is far from being over.

“The presidency and our new government will continue its determined and brave fight against this parallel structure, which betrayed the country,” Erdoğan said yesterday. “Those who had a treacherous stance against Turkey, our beloved nation and the government of the Turkish Republic will by all means pay the price for this. It is a burden on my shoulders as the new president to bring those traitors to account.”

Davutoğlu was no less harsh than Erdoğan. “This mentality tries to overtake the state without shedding sweat, it will not be allowed” he said. “Junta seekers, lodges and the parallel state, those who want to seize the state by controlling the bureaucracy, will not be able to infiltrate [state institutions].”

Erdoğan, whose son was a target of the corruption probe, takes the operations personally and considers them to be a direct challenge to his authority. But yesterday’s mood at the convention, and Davutoğlu’s speech, proved that the new president has managed to turn the issue into a task for his party rather than a personal vendetta.

At this point, we can only hope that this “fight” will stay within the limits of the law and target only those directly responsible for the judicial atrocities of our recent history. Unfortunately, it has the potential to turn into a witch hunt.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan and Davutoğlu gave messages on various subjects, but neither said a word about the 49 employees of the Turkish consulate in Mosul, including Consul General Öztürk Yılmaz and two babies, who are now in their 78th day as hostages at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a group of murderers who do not hesitate to behead people. Our new Prime Minister Davutoğlu should be putting this issue before his fight with the Gülenists.