Turkish President Erdoğan: I asked intel chief to stay, but he left

Turkish President Erdoğan: I asked intel chief to stay, but he left

Akif Beki BOGOTA
Turkish President Erdoğan: I asked intel chief to stay, but he left

AA Photo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said his confidant, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Chief Hakan Fidan, resigned from his post to run for parliament for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) despite Erdoğan’s objection, as he wanted Fidan to remain in his crucial current post. 

Nonetheless, the appointment of Fidan’s successor as MİT chief must be approved by the president, Erdoğan stressed, suggesting that he would have the final say on the matter.

The president was speaking to a small group of reporters on board his presidential jet on Feb. 9, at the start of his official trip to South America.

You have said “I do not view Hakan Fidan’s candidacy positively.” What did you mean by this?

The MİT is not an ordinary institution. We cannot simply appoint an ordinary person to that position. It is an office that one takes after a water-tight screening process. There should be an extremely credible person heading it. As a matter of fact, [during my term as prime minister] I brought someone there [Fidan] who is extremely trusted, someone who I could consider as my secret-keeper. Previously, there were moments when I assigned them [Fidan] as a special representative. 

So now they may be planning to become a candidate to become a deputy or assume a post beyond that position. Or maybe certain promises have been made to him; I cannot know about that. But I told him [Fidan] loud and clear: “I don’t believe that you leaving [the MİT] is right. You should resume your duties because this is not just any position … You may be considering this an ordinary employment status, but this is not such an office.” 

So although I don’t find it appropriate, he personally stated that he is exhausted and can no longer go on continue in the same position. Unfortunately, he thinks that taking such a step is appropriate for himself and so took it. The process now belongs to the prime minister, and he will propose a name for [Fidan’s] replacement. Accordingly, we must either approve this name or not. Whoever comes to the post is very important, because what we have experienced and what we have suffered in the struggle against the parallel structure [of followers of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen] is self-evident. In such an environment, I don’t find such a situation to be appropriate.

Could any trouble emerge during the replacement process?

No, what trouble? I always say that even if I’m left on my own I will continue this struggle to the end, against the parallel structure and those like it.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu made some statements recently, saying “There is a vacuum at the prime ministry, Fidan will fill that.”

He should look at himself instead of wondering whether the current prime minister will go or not. He should look at what post he himself would be able to take. But he doesn’t have such dreams. He doesn’t even think about whether he could be prime minister, so he is only attempting to do politics through Davutoğlu.

Do you have any concerns about the struggle against the parallel structure, which make you say “even if I’m on my own I will continue this struggle to the end”? Do you believe that not all state institutions have the same sensitivity?

I display my own sensitivity and I expect this sensitivity also from the government and all state institutions. The government recently took the required steps after the [National Security Council] MGK’s advisory decision was conveyed. [The parallel structure] will be included in the National Security Policy Document that will be released [updated] by the MGK either in April or in May. At the same time, this will be a significant reference for the judiciary when delivering rulings. I believe it will have an important place in steps they will take too. I’m saying “I will continue this struggle to the end, even if I’m left on my own” simply in order to display the importance that I attach to this issue.