Turkish President Gül urges reckoning with corruption claims, calls for new rules

Turkish President Gül urges reckoning with corruption claims, calls for new rules

Turkish President Gül urges reckoning with corruption claims, calls for new rules

President Abdullah Gül spoke during a live interview with private broadcaster Habertürk on Jan 3. AA photo

President Abdullah Gül has urged the government to confront claims of corruption as "a first priority," while calling for the adoption of a new set of rules to avert fresh controversies.

“Corruption should be confronted to alleviate [the public] conscience. Principles are very important on this issue. If rules are not good enough, the environment might allow corruption. That’s why I believe that we need new rules,” Gül said Jan. 3 during a live interview with private broadcaster Habertürk in his first extensive comments on the Dec. 17, 2013, graft probe with has shaken the government.

Gül said the adoption of a pending law on the Turkish Court of Accounts, whose powers of auditing are a contentious issue between the government and the opposition, was pressing.

“More transparency has been brought regarding fight against corruption, but in my opinion this is not enough. The adoption of the law on the Court of Accounts is very important. If there is any claim of corruption, confronting it is the first priority for everyone,” he said.

No 'parallel state' can be tolerated

Gül has also expressed his concerns over claims relayed by several high-level officials of a “gang within the state” aiming to topple the government, stressing that such network could not be “tolerable.”

“There cannot be another state or other organizations within the state. There cannot be such thing as [receiving] instructions from outside an institution,” Gül said.

The prime minister and several government officials have repeatedly accused “a parallel state” within the police department and especially the judiciary of plotting the probe, in which sons of two former ministers are also still under arrest for bribery charges while other two ex-ministers have also been implicated. 

“If such things happen, those have of course to be investigated, elucidated and what’s necessary should be done. Furthermore, transparency on such issues is as important as in civil society. Particularly if such [organizations] occur in the judiciary, these cannot be tolerated,” Gül said. 

He also commented on the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors’ (HSYK) statement last week against a governmental decree lifting investigation secrecy, which came ahead of a ruling of the Council of State that ultimately annulled the controversial move. 

“I did not find HSYK’s statement adequate. The court was set to decide so its decision should not have been overshadowed. These sorts of disputes and making them public are not very favorable things. Constitutional institutions should know very well their constitutional duties,” Gül said. 

In the same vein, Gül also criticized the prosecutor of a second graft investigation who distributed a statement to the press following his removal from the case, denouncing “pressures” inside the judiciary to obstruct legal action against circles close to government officials.  

Mindful of not trespassing powers

About calls for his intervention on the turmoil, Gül said he was holding meetings on the issue but remained very careful to not act beyond his powers. 

“We are not in a presidential system, but in a parliamentary system. I am doing what falls on me. We talk about this matter in my meetings. I do what’s necessary to enhance harmony between state institutions,” he said.

Gül also said he did not see any link between the Gezi protests and the graft probe, as suggested by many government officials. 

Meanwhile, he hailed the release of two jailed Kurdish lawmakers upon a ruling of the Constitutional Court on their lengthy detentions.