News / Europe

    Hit by Scandal, Turkey PM Names New Ministers

    Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling AK Party, at its headquarters in Ankara, Dec. 25, 2013.
    Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling AK Party, at its headquarters in Ankara, Dec. 25, 2013.
    Reuters
    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reshuffled his cabinet on Wednesday after three members quit over a corruption scandal that has posed an unprecedented challenge to his 11-year rule.

    The crisis erupted on December 17 when dozens of people, including the head of state-run Halkbank, were arrested on graft charges. Erdogan responded by purging police investigators. The ensuing feud with the judiciary reignited long-simmering street protests and rattled foreign investors.

    Earlier on Wednesday, three ministers who had sons among those detained resigned. Two of them echoed Erdogan in depicting the inquiry as baseless and a conspiracy. The third, Environment Minister Erdogan Bayraktar, turned on the premier.

    ”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 ministers' resignations, although some commentators thought their timing was off.

    ”These are very late and difficult resignations. They don't have any value in terms of democracy,” said Koray Caliskan, an associate professor at Istanbul's Bogazici University.

    After nightfall, a tired-looking Erdogan announced he was appointing 10 new ministers to replace the three who quit and others planning mayoral runs in local elections in March.

    During his three terms in office, Erdogan has transformed Turkey by tackling its once-dominant secular military and overseen rapid economic expansion. He weathered anti-government demonstrations that swept Istanbul and other cities in mid-2013.

    The gauntlet thrown down by Bayraktar set off fresh protests in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir. Erdogan was unmoved.
           
    Protocol, purges

    In a speech earlier on Wednesday, Erdogan vowed no tolerance on corruption. He argued that the work of the about 70 police investigators he had sacked or reassigned - including the chief of the force in Istanbul, Halkbank's headquarters - was 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 to provincial leaders of his Islamist-rooted AK party.

    Alluding to TV news reports that have riveted Turks with footage of cash-filled shoe boxes allegedly seized at suspects' homes, he asked: “How do you know what that money is for?”

    The 14-month investigation was conducted largely in secret.

    At the weekend, the government changed regulations for the police, requiring officers to report evidence, investigations, arrests and complaints to commanding officers and prosecutors. Journalists have been banned from police stations.

    The Hurriyet newspaper said up to 550 police officers, including senior commanders, had been dismissed nationwide in the past week by Interior Minister Muammer Guler, who has now resigned.

    Erdogan's critics see an authoritarian streak in his rule.

    ”The only way you can explain an interior minister removing the police chiefs working in an investigation regarding his own family is that the aim is to obstruct evidence,” said Koray Caliskan, who writes for the centrist newspaper Radikal.

    ”The prime minister thinks Turkish people are not very clever [but] he will be slapped hard at the ballot box,” added Caliskan.

    Turkey's next parliamentary election is not until 2015. But with the local ballots looming, pollsters say the scandal's so-far modest erosion of AK's popular support could quicken.

    In a fourth resignation on Wednesday, AK lawmaker Idris Naim Sahin, a former interior minister, told the party he was also stepping down, according to sources in his office.

    The scandal has laid bare rivalry between Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Turkish cleric whose Hizmet (Service) movement claims at least one million followers, including senior police officers and judges, and which 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 allow 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 Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora