Turkey tired of polls, polarization: Former President Gül

Turkey tired of polls, polarization: Former President Gül

Turkey tired of polls, polarization: Former President Gül

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Former President Abdullah Gül has dismissed speculation that he could run in the coming presidential elections against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, while giving messages of solidarity against “serious threats from abroad.”

“Turkey is tired of polarization and elections. On this matter, Turkey has to look forward. There are developments which threatened Turkey’s national interests. There are many economic demands and problems and public needs to be met,” he said.

“Everybody should focus on them and work to solve these problems,” Gül said. 

Gül’s name has been at the center of political discussions in Turkey since former main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal mentioned his name as one of the possible candidates for those opposing the recent constitutional amendments that endowed Erdoğan with vastly enhanced powers. 

Comments ‘not serious’

Gül said he thought Baykal’s comments were “unimportant,” adding that “Turkey has very important issues ahead.”

“I did not take them seriously,” he said. “Surely, help is needed for the government and for Turkey to deal with its problems. Turkey faced very serious threats that occurred for the first time in its history – threats coming from abroad. In order to overcome these threats, there should be solidarity and calm actions,” he added. 

Baykal’s statement stirred a heated debate both within his CHP and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), as Gül is a prominent founding member of the AKP and also served as a prime minister and minister in many AKP governments. 

After his term as president ended, Gül declared his withdrawal from active politics, but his reluctance to attend AKP events have been interpreted as indications of a rift with the ruling party.  

“I know how 367 rule emerged, and what Turkey experienced in coming to this point,” Gül said, slamming Baykal while recalling the constitutional debate in 2007, when the CHP, then led by Baykal, fiercely argued against Gül’s presidency. 

The CHP argued in 2007 that Gül had to gain 367 of 500 lawmakers’ vote in order to become president. The process led to a constitutional amendment in which laws on presidential elections were altered. 

‘Silence saddened me’

Gül also criticized the AKP for not speaking up against the heavy comments about him. 

“Some of my friends pass the boundaries of respect and go as far as to advise me about what should I do or do not do. I am very saddened by that,” he said. 

His comments were interpreted as a reference to AKP Kayseri lawmaker Mustafa Elitaş, who publicly said Gül would soon have to make a statement to soothe the tension.

He also criticized AKP officials for being silent about “the social media outrage” against the “AKP’s real pioneers, founders and friends who contributed to its reputation inside and outside.”

“Actually, everybody knows how these things are organized. But I find the silence about it very saddening. I leave it to the conscience of the public,” he said. 

No return to active politics

Reiterating his earlier announcement, Gül said he would not participate in active politics. 

“But of course I have a responsibility to share my knowledge and experience for my country,” he said.