Turkish PM Erdoğan storms out of Council of State speech over 'rudeness'

Turkish PM Erdoğan storms out of Council of State speech over 'rudeness'

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish PM Erdoğan storms out of Council of State speech over rudeness

Prime Minister Erdoğan walked out before Metin Feyzioğlu, the head of Turkey’s bar association, finished his speech.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stormed out of a speech delivered by Turkish Union of Bars head Metin Feyzioğlu, accusing Feyzioğlu of being "rude" in a speech criticizing the government's performance.

"What you're saying is wrong," Erdoğan said near the end of the speech by Feyzioğlu, who was speaking on the occasion of the 146th anniversary of the establishment of the Council of State in Ankara.

"What am I saying that is wrong, Mr. Prime Minister?" Feyzioğlu asked in reply, prompting Erdoğan to angrily respond: "This kind of rudeness is impossible."

"I'm not the one who's being rude, Mr. Prime Minister," the bar head then said.

Erdoğan became incensed over Feyzioğlu's criticizing of the government's failure to provide permanent settlement to some survivors of the 2011 Van earthquakes. He stressed that many people were still living in rudimentary conditions in shipping containers.

Rising from his seat to leave, Erdoğan interrupted the speech, saying Turkey's highest lawyer had "no legal right" to say such things. "Unfortunately, because of the law, we give a platform to things like this. You're making a political speech ... Everything you said about Van is a lie," he said.

Sitting alongside Erdoğan, President Abdullah Gül attempted to calm Erdoğan down, but to no avail.

"I haven't been rude," Feyzioğlu said. "I'm not so bold as to tell anyone that they are being rude, Mr. Prime Minister. My speech was very inclusive."

Speaking after the incident, he described Erdoğan's comments as "saddening." "I'm saying, 'let's embrace each other.' The prime minister stood up and made extremely saddening comments that superseded the limits of respect by an unfathomable level," he said.

Here is the video footage of the incident from public broadcaster TRT:

Speaking hours later, Erdoğan slammed Feyzioğlu during his opening speech at his ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) 22nd Consultation and Assessment Meeting in the western province of Afyonkarahisar.

"We watched a theatrical play at the Council of State today," he said at the start of the party's two-day camp, during which strategies for the upcoming presidential election in August will be discussed.

"These people have no respect. You're invited to an event. You have no legal right to speak. This gentleman spoke for an hour, while the head of the Council of State spoke for only 25 minutes. He made a completely political speech, which was irrelevant for the occasion. It was just for self-satisfaction. Take off your robe, if you love politics so much," Erdoğan continued, labeling Feyzioğlu as "a lost cause."

Late last month, the prime minister was similarly enraged by a speech delivered by Constitutional Court head Haşim Kılıç, who called the government out for its alleged increasing authoritarianism. Erdoğan had expressed his discomfort through gestures and body language, and left without saying a word when Kılıç's speech finished. 

Erdoğan also criticized the Republican People's Party (CHP) during his speech in Afyonkarahisar on May 10, claiming that Turkey's main opposition "tries to create an atmosphere of mistrust in the country as it had done in the past during the 1960 and 1980 coups."

"The foreign organizations are acting as a mouthpiece of the opposition's negative propaganda while criticizing freedoms and freedom of press in Turkey. The same organizations cannot dare to criticize their monarch, prime minister, opposition leader and other leadership of the country," Erdoğan argued.

Turkish Prime Minister also said that the ruling AKP will announce its presidential candidate by the end of May or mid-June at latest.