Is PM Erdoğan corrupt?
One of the major problems with regard to what’s going on nowadays in Turkey stems from the definition of corruption by the head of the powerful Turkish government, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: “What I understand about corruption is this: Are the state’s coffers being robbed or not?” he said in an interview with Al-Jazeera on Feb. 11. He gave this definition upon a question about the $4.5 million in cash found in shoeboxes in the house of the former general manager of the state-run Halkbank.
According to Erdoğan, the money found in the general manager’s house was not the bank’s money, so accusing the general manager of corruption or fraud was baseless.
Former Interior Minister Muammer Güler’s $10 million bribe (plus his son’s 1 trillion Turkish Liras, found in his house; the $1.5 million transferred to former EU Minister Egemen Bağış, and the $52 million Zafer Çağlayan bribed, are not considered corruption in the eyes of Erdoğan because that money was not robbed from the state. (All these amounts are documented in the summary of proceedings prepared for these ministers, although these proceedings have yet to be introduced to Parliament due to the government’s blockage.)
Opposition parties have long criticized Erdoğan for his inaction over corruption claims. They even argued that he was personally involved in corruption, by asking about the millions of dollars from businessmen who are making huge profits from lucrative tenders distributed by the government. The opposition suggests that Erdoğan created a well-functioning network for pro-government businessmen, who then found ways to show their gratefulness to the government. Transferring a few million dollars to designated foundations or directly to the houses of government members was just a part of this understanding, the opposition claimed.
A recent leaked voice recording between the prime minister and his son shows that Erdoğan should stick to his very original definition of corruption, as it could be the only way for him to explain the millions of euros or dollars allegedly in his family’s house. He denied the recordings and said they were fabricated, while an Ankara prosecutor has launched a probe into the leaked tape.
However, defining corruption as being solely made up of money stolen from state coffers is obviously a non-starter for ethical governance, which is something Turkey needs more than ever. Because today’s picture depicts a country where some very key notions that have vital importance for the protection of social order in a country - such as ethics, justice, conscience, and so on - are under threat.
In the absence of ethical governance, it will be extremely difficult to keep economic, political and social stability. That’s why Erdoğan should immediately adopt a more universal definition of corruption and then do his best to fight against corruption and graft claims. He should start his job with his own ministers by allowing an effective investigation of corruption and graft claims, without discrimination.
This is the only way for Erdoğan to convince his country and the world that he is not corrupt and is fully clean. Otherwise, we have every right to be suspicious of him.