News / Europe

    Turkey PM Challenged as 3 Ministers Quit Over Scandal

    Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters upon his arrival to Esenboga Airport in Ankara, Dec. 24, 2013.
    Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters upon his arrival to Esenboga Airport in Ankara, Dec. 24, 2013.
    Reuters
     Three members of Turkey's cabinet resigned over a high-level corruption scandal on Wednesday, and one called on Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to follow suit.
     
    The unprecedented challenge raised the temperature in a week-long crisis that has pitted a defiant Erdogan against the Turkish judiciary and reignited anti-government sentiment which has simmered since the mass street-protests of mid-2013.
     
    The resigning interior, economy and environment ministers each had a son detained on Dec. 17 as police went public with a long-running investigation into graft allegations involving state-run lender Halkbank. Two of the sons remain in custody along with 22 others, including the head of the bank.
     
    The first two ministers echoed the premier in deeming the probe a baseless plot against the government. But Environment Minister Erdogan Bayraktar turned against the Turkish leader.
     
    “For the sake of the wellbeing of this nation and country, I believe the prime minister should resign,” he told NTV news.
     
    By breaking ranks, Bayraktar may have diluted any easing of pressure on Erdogan afforded by the stepping-down of Interior Minister Muammer Guler and Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan - though some analysts said they had moved too late anyway.
     
    While the cabinet shake-up's Christmas Day timing cushioned the blow to Turkey on dormant international markets, the country's stock index fell fell 3 percent while the lira weakened to 2.0855 against the dollar.
     
    Erdogan did not immediately respond to Bayraktar's remarks.
     
    But in his first public appearance after the resignations, the pugnacious prime minister, who during three terms in office has transformed Turkey by tackling its once-dominant secular military and orchestrating economic boom, appeared unfazed.
     
    PROCEDURES, PURGES
     
    Erdogan told provincial leaders of his Islamist-rooted AK party that he would not tolerate corruption. But, having answered the Dec. 17 graft arrests by purging police officers involved, he argued that their work had been deeply tainted.
     
    “If a verdict is made by the opposition party on the second day of the investigation, what's the point of having judges? If a decision is made by the media, what's the point of having these long legal procedures?” Erdogan said.
     
    Alluding to TV news reports which had riveted Turks with images of cash-filled shoeboxes allegedly seized at suspects' homes, he asked: “How do you know what that money is for?”
     
    The 14-month probe was conducted largely in secret. At the weekend, the Erdogan government changed regulations for the police, requiring officers to report evidence, investigations, arrests and complaints to commanding officers and prosecutors. Crime reporters have further been banned from police stations.
     
    Hurriyet newspaper said as many as 550 police officers, including senior commanders, had been dismissed nationwide by Guler over the last week.
     
    Erdogan critics see an authoritarian streak in his rule and the European Union, to which Turkey has long sought accession, on Tuesday urged Ankara to safeguard the separation of powers.
     
    The latest scandal has laid bare rivalry between Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Turkish cleric whose Hizmet (“Service”) movement claims at least a million followers, including senior police and judges, and runs schools and charities across Turkey and abroad.
     
    While denying any role in the affair, Gulen described Erdogan as suffering “decayed thinking” after the premier portrayed himself as fending off a shadowy international plot.
     
    In an apparent reference to Gulen, Erdogan said on Wednesday: “We would not let certain organizations acting under the guise of religion but being used as the tools of certain countries to carry out an operation on our country.”

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.