Resignations declared – a little too late?

After 8 intense days of defiance, threats and counter-measures to slow down the massive graft probe, after much loss of time and energy, and erosion of image for Turkey, this morning we have had the news of two ministers stepping down.

As reported by Today’s Zaman:

Turkey’s economy and interior ministers resigned on Wednesday in the first Cabinet shake-up over a high-level corruption probe that has pitted the government against the judiciary and rattled foreign investor confidence.

The resignation decision came eight days after their sons were detained over corruption charges.

Economy Minister Zafer Cağlayan’s son Salih Kaan was among 24 people arrested on graft charges on Dec. 21 in a case centering on state-run lender Halkbank. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has responded by purging police investigators involved.

The Erdoğan government casts the scandal as a foreign-orchestrated effort to sow discord in Turkey, which during the premier’s three terms has flourished economically though he has been accused of authoritarianism.

“I have resigned from my post of economy minister to help the truth to come out and to foil this ugly plot, which has impacted my child and my close work colleagues, among others,” Cağlayan said in a statement.

“It is obvious that the operation carried out on Dec. 17 [the initial detentions] is a dirty set-up against our party and our government.”

Interior Minister Muammer Güler has stated that his son Barış Güler was arrested in the recent corruption investigation on charges of brokering a bribe.

Speaking to press at the Presidential Grand Award in Culture and Arts in Ankara on Tuesday, Güler said his son’s arrest is not lawful as he had not been charged with a “catalog crime,” a term that refers to crimes during whose investigation special security measures could be implemented.

“My son has not been arrested for an organized crime. He is only arrested on charges of brokering a bribe. According to a decision taken by the general assembly of the Supreme Court of Appeals, there are no legal grounds for his arrest. This is because the person [accused of brokering] has to be a public official. I am the public official [not my son],” Güler said, adding that any unofficial wiretapped telephone conversation of his is not legal evidence, referring to a wiretapped conversation with his son that went viral after the corruption investigation started last week.

The affair has reignited anti-Erdoğan sentiment among many Turks that had simmered since the unprecedented mid-2013 mass protests against his rule. It also drew an EU warning that Ankara needed to safeguard the separation of powers.

Moving to salve the domestic divisions, President Abdullah Gül pledged on Tuesday that there would be no cover-up and that the investigation would be adjudicated in independent courts.

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About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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