PM Erdoğan rebuffs Deputy PM Arınç's criticism over co-ed housing stance

PM Erdoğan rebuffs Deputy PM Arınç's criticism over co-ed housing stance

PM Erdoğan rebuffs Deputy PM Arınçs criticism over co-ed housing stance

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan rebuffed Deputy PM Bülent Arınç's criticism over his stance on co-ed housing. Many commentators argued on Nov. 9 that a rift was 'growing' between Erdoğan and the man portrayed as the most influential figure in the AKP after him and President Abdullah Gül. DAILY NEWS photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has expressed his discomfort over the statements made by Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç's in a live televised interview on Nov. 8. Arınç had criticized the way the mixed-sex student housing debate was being conducted, particularly the situation that he was put in as the government spokesperson after rejecting the possibility of any legal arrangement on the issue.

"If one of my friends or my government spokespeople has said something, this is not the place where I will comment on it, nor are you the ones with whom I will speak about this issue. We will deal with it between ourselves," Erdoğan was quoted as saying by senior journalists during his bilateral visit to Poland late on Nov. 8.

"I am the president of the [ruling Justice and Development - AKP] party and the prime minister of the government. I will do what is necessary when the time comes. I won't do it through the television or media. We will speak about it at the central executive board's meeting or the Cabinet meeting," he added, in an apparent criticism of Arınç's public admission of a rift between the two in a live television interview.

Erdoğan was speaking after Arınç had reproached his harsh stance, denying that the government was intending to "raid" private houses where students are residing.

"I want to call out to our prime minister as a friend and a brother. There is an obvious contradiction between my statement and his speech as the prime minister. It is expected of him that he will clarify that contradiction, for yesterday, today, and tomorrow," Arınç told public broadcaster TRT during an interview in Belgrade.

Often portrayed as the most influential politician of the AKP after Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül, Arınç also hinted that he might reconsider his role inside the government.

"I have a particular weight. I'm not a minister who only occupies a position. I'm someone who represents the party's thoughts, opinions for the past, today and the future. I shouldn't be neglected," Arınç said.

"The prime minister is normally careful about this. It's at least right to share [opinions]," he added.

Responding to journalists, Erdoğan said he had not felt the need to speak with Arınç after the remarks he made in Belgrade.

"I haven't spoken with [Arınç]. Why should I?" he said.

Arınç faces tough dilemma: Main opposition leader

For his part, main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu defended Arınç's position, saying that the deputy prime minister was facing a "tough dilemma."

"[Arınç] described the prime minister's remarks during a private meeting as "false." He did that in fact to protect [Erdoğan]. Now the prime minister has sacrificed Arınç and shown that the story was not false at all," the Republican People's Party (CHP) leader told private broadcaster Samanyolu late on Nov. 8.

The issue first erupted after remarks delivered by Erdoğan at a closed-door party gathering in Kızılcahamam, a resort town nearby Ankara, over the weekend were leaked to the press.

Kılıçdaroğlu said Arınç's first reflex to deny the debate was due to his "conscientious" stance inside the AKP.

"He is one of the people who interrogates life in a healthy way and with conscience. His statements are important, although I don't know what the results and echoes may be. I don't know how the prime minister will react to this. But [Arınç] has carefully underscored that the prime minister is the one who should solve the issue," Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Erdoğan returned from Poland late Nov. 8, while Arınç left Belgrade on the morning of Nov. 9.