Erdoğan: The Peace Process Began And Reached the Current Stage Under My Responsibility
In a sign of simmering tensions at the top, Erdoğan’s longtime deputy Bulent Arinc told the president over the weekend to stop interfering and making “emotional” statements about efforts to end the three decades-long insurgency in the southeast.
But Erdoğan, seen as all-powerful since being elected head of state last year after 11 years as prime minister, hit back Monday in a televised speech: “The peace process began and reached the current stage under my responsibility. It is both my right and duty to voice my opinion,” he said.
Ankara mayor Melik Gokcek, an Erdogan loyalist, later called on Arinç to resign, accusing him of trying to undermine the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) which he co-founded with Erdogan from within.
In a series of tweets he accused the Deputy Prime Minister of being a tool of the “parallel state”, a reference to the Gulen movement — once a staunch ally of the Islamic-rooted government — which Erdoğan claims plotted to overthrow him.
“I always wondered… how they will strike at us,” Gokçek wrote. “I must confess I wasn’t expecting such a blow, they wanted to strike at us from within.”
In an impassioned response, Arinç bluntly called the mayor “dishonourable” and threatened to reveal his wrongdoings after the key legislative election in June.
He acknowledged his “sympathy” for the Gulen movement, but said since a vast corruption probe into the government broke in December 2013 — which Erdoğan blamed on Gülen supporters in the police and judiciary “I have been standing by my government and Mr President.
“I am not anybody’s man. At the end of my political career I will walk with my head held high,” he said.
Arinç, who is also the government’s official spokesman, had crossed swords with Erdoğan earlier this month, telling him he had “no right” to threaten the central bank over its reluctance to lower interest rates.
After a meeting at the Dolmabahçe palace the prime minister’s official office in Istanbul pro-Kurdish lawmaker Sirri Sureyya Onder relayed jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan’s call for disarmament at a joint press conference with Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdoğan.
“I personally do not find it appropriate for the deputy prime minister to pose side by side with a party which currently holds seats in the parliament,” said Erdoğan, in comments published at the weekend.
Arinç snapped back at Erdogan’s “emotional” statements, insisting Sunday that the government was responsible for the peace process.
Even pro-government observers see the friction as a sign of worrying cracks in the ruling party, which seemed to be cruising to another electoral victory.
Columnist Abdulkadir Selvi, of the Yeni Safak newspaper, wrote: “The AK Party used to have a magic. The masses preferred the AK Party as they saw it as a symbol of stability. But this magic is breaking down.”