Turkish Deputy PM critical of president’s interference in row over top cleric’s official car
AA PhotoDeputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has overtly criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s stance regarding a recent controversy over the allocation of a luxury car to Turkey’s top cleric.
Arınç was particularly critical at Erdoğan’s interference in the matter even though Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) head Mehmet Görmez had said he would return the official car – valued at over 1 million Turkish Liras ($435,000) – that was recently purchased, following strong criticism from opposition parties and the public.
Erdoğan said he would have rejected the return of the car if he had been informed beforehand.
“Our Diyanet president was very saddened and said: ‘I will return this. From now on, this Mercedes has become no different from a grave.’ At that point, Mr. President said: ‘You are in the wrong. Do not return the vehicle.’ He [Görmez] had already returned it,” said Arınç during an interview with private Star TV aired late June 4.
The veteran politician recalled how the president later announced that it was his personal initiative to allocate an armored Mercedes from the inventory of the presidential office to the Diyanet head.
According to Arınç, since Görmez had already said he would return the previous car due to controversy, then he should also kindly tell President Erdoğan that he didn’t want the new armored car from the presidential office.
“I don’t know if he [Görmez] said so or not but I suppose he was very saddened. He has eternal respect for our president but I wish our president would not have said: ‘Take it, I am sending you a car. From now on, you will use this deliberately [despite critics].’ I believe that [Görmez] found himself in the middle of a dilemma,” Arınç said.
“I believe that if the Diyanet made such a statement [about returning the car], pressuring him is not out business. There is a need to respect his decision,” he added.