Turkey’s opposition parties have raised the pressure on ministers implicated in a massive graft probe, with the main opposition leader arguing that the prime minister has already lost the confidence of his own people.
“I would expect that since you said that you came to power in order to fight against corruption, then when something like this happens, related ministers come and say: ‘Mr. Prime Minister, we will leave our duties until light is shed on the issue. Believe me, democracy would have won in Turkey, if they had said this,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said Dec. 20 in a speech delivered at an industry congress held by the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB).
The suspects include the sons of Interior Minister Muammer Güler, Economy Minister Zafer Cağlayan and Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar. EU Minister Egemen Bağış is also said to be a suspect involved in corruption and bribery.
A senior executive of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said Dec. 20 that a Cabinet reshuffle would happen next week, probably following a scheduled visit of the prime minister to Pakistan. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is set to depart for Pakistan late on Dec. 22 and will return late Dec. 24.
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ, meanwhile, suggested that “the operation” was aimed at manipulating local elections and presidential elections. In messages posted on his Twitter account, however, Bozdağ did not mention the general elections.
Erdoğan should call members of the Cabinet for a meeting if he wishes to see “the gang organized within the state,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, in an apparent reference to remarks by Erdoğan in which he blamed “a state within the state,” for conducting a conspiracy against the government through the operation.
According to Kılıçdaroğlu, it is “the biggest corruption operation in the history of the Republic of Turkey.”
“Let the entire Council of Ministers [be replaced]. This government is not inspiring confidence in Turkey anymore,” Kılıçdaroğlu said while leaving the congress in response to questions about a possible Cabinet reshuffle.
The investigation also dominated Parliament’s agenda during the closing session of the 10-day-long debates on Turkey’s 2014 budget.
“The latest developments have showed us that there’s a primary budget for the members of the Cabinet and their family,” Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) deputy parliamentary group chair Pervin Buldan said in her address to Parliament’s General Assembly during budget debates, alluding to the alleged involvement of three ministers’ sons in bribery.
Buldan also spoke of a “parallel state,” a term belonging to pro-government circles for the followers of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, which is believed to have launched the corruption investigation.
“Prosecutors only watched the corruption of the government for years, and they have just launched the operation when their interests conflicted. This is entirely a scandal. On the other side, police chiefs have been dismissed right after the operation was launched. We could not imagine a state where someone is corrupt dismisses the police chiefs, but we are witnessing it in our own country,” Buldan said, while calling on the government to account for the corruption.
“It’s the debt of honor of the government to account for the corruption. They cannot cover up or hide it,” she said.
AKP deputy parliamentary group chair Nurettin Canikli, meanwhile, said the government was no attempting to cover up the corruption investigation.
“There’s such [corruption] allegation for the first time in our 11-year ruling. And all of them are still allegations, there’s nothing has proved. If there’s such operation, it’s clear that nothing is being covered up, and we are proud of it,” Canikli said during debates in Parliament.