The quorum for the discussion of the summaries of proceedings at the General Assembly of Parliament was reached, and after 184 deputies cast their votes to open a session on the issue, Parliament began to discuss the proceedings.
As dramatic day came closer to an end after hours of wrangling in Parliament, the call for a general discussion of files were rejected by 259 No votes of the ruling party against 158 votes of the opposition parties.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Deputy Chairman Oktay Vural objected, saying Deputy Parliament Speaker Meral Akşener should have presided over the session instead of Deputy Parliament Speaker Sadık Yakut. Yakut responded to the criticism by saying that that Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek had decided who would manage the session.
According to Parliament bylaws, the person who manages a parliamentary session is pre-determined, and the deputy parliament speaker names that person from a monthly rotating list. Despite it being Akşener’s turn to manage the session, Çiçek used his authority to change the list prior to the meeting.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and other CHP deputies attended the session in full while MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli was absent in Parliament as he is campaigning across Turkey for the upcoming elections.
After Parliament convened and the deputies cast their votes to meet and discuss the summaries of proceedings, Yakut said carousel voting would be used, causing objections from opposition parties in Parliament. The Justice and the Development Party (AK Party) deputies chose to follow the proceedings from their offices instead of the General Assembly.
The summaries of proceedings target former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, former Interior Minister Muammer Güler, former European Union Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış and former Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar, who resigned one week after the Dec. 17 corruption scandal went public. The four ministers were allegedly involved in corruption and bribery.
Güler and Çağlayan echoed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in depicting the corruption inquiry as baseless and part of a conspiracy when they left their positions, but Bayraktar turned against the prime minister, calling for his resignation.
AK Party Deputy Chairman Nurettin Canikli said the content of the proceedings had already been shared with the public and denied allegations of illegal deliveries of money as revealed in recent voice recordings.
CHP Deputy Chairman Gürsel Tekin took the original proceedings to the General Assembly with him and showed them to journalists during the session. When asked about disclosing these documents to the media, Tekin replied: “Is theft not a crime? If showing these documents to the media [is a crime], then I have committed a crime. The source of the accusations is not the media or newspaper reports. It is the bill of indictment of the state’s prosecutor. Here are the proceedings. One of three of the Cabinet is involved in corruption, according to these documents. Here are the photos, official documents and accusations about money transfers. There is only need for a conscience.”
Vural also told Yakut that the proceedings had not been completely read in Parliament, adding, “Do not hide anything from the people,” while other opposition deputies also raised objection about the issue.
CHP deputy Akif Hamzaçebi also criticized the fact that the documents were not read fully, sparking a discussion between Hamzaçebi and Yakut.
The four former ministers defended themselves by saying that they were the victims of a defamation campaign, claiming they are insulted by the illegally obtained information contained in the investigation file.
Prior to the opening of the session, Deputy Parliament Speaker Yakut announced that the four former Cabinet ministers had petitioned the Parliament Speaker’s Office and demanded the establishment of an inquiry commission regarding the corruption allegations leveled against them.
The Cumhuriyet daily wrote that Çağlayan had accepted a total of $52 million in bribes on 28 different occasions; Güler received bribes totaling $10 million on 10 occasions; and Bağış received a total of $1.5 million on three occasions.