News / Middle East

Turkey's Gul Urges Judiciary to Stay Impartial in Graft Probe

FILE - Turkey's President Abdullah Gul (L) and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
FILE - Turkey's President Abdullah Gul (L) and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Turkish President Abdullah Gul urged the judiciary to remain impartial as it pursues a corruption investigation shaking the government, warning on Friday of grave economic consequences if confidence in the country's institutions is eroded.
 
In his most exhaustive comments on the graft scandal so far, Gul said the existence of a “state within the state” would not be tolerated, an apparent reference to the movement of U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers are influential in Turkey's police and judiciary.
 
He also said there should be no tolerance for corruption.
 
The corruption investigation, which has led to the resignation of three ministers, poses the biggest challenge to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in his 11 years as leader. He has cast the probe as a foreign-backed plot to undermine his government and sap his influence in the Middle East and beyond.
 
Gul, whose role as president is largely ceremonial but who must approve laws passed by parliament and makes key appointments in the judiciary, has not been implicated in the corruption allegations.
 
“There can be no state within the state,” the president said in a live interview on Turkish television, echoing Erdogan's words after police raided offices and homes and detained businessmen close to the government two weeks ago.
 
“Anybody can work at state institutions - the army, the judiciary, or other state actors - but they have to abide by the law, the constitution and the rules of that institution ... taking orders from somewhere else is not acceptable,” he said.
 
“If there are such claims, these will be investigated and this cannot be allowed. If this is happening within the judiciary, among the judges, this cannot be tolerated.”
 
The corruption probe has pitched Erdogan against Gulen, whose Hizmet (“Service”) movement controls a vast global network of schools and businesses and whose sympathizers among Turkey's religious elite say they number in the millions.
 
FILE - Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen is pictured at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania in this 2004 file photo.FILE - Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen is pictured at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania in this 2004 file photo.
x
FILE - Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen is pictured at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania in this 2004 file photo.
FILE - Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen is pictured at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania in this 2004 file photo.
Many of Gulen's followers see him as a more progressive and pro-Western influence than Erdogan, whose opinions on issues from abortion to alcohol consumption, and the concentration of power around him they view with increasing alarm.
 
Erdogan's backers see Gulen's connivance in the inquiry, a charge the cleric has denied through his lawyers.
 
The prime minister has responded by purging some 70 police officers connected with the investigation and blocking a second probe into big infrastructure projects he has championed.
 
Economic Consequences
 
Gul, seen as a more unifying figure than Erdogan and who has largely stayed out of the furor, emphasized that the judiciary should also be free from government interference.
 
“We are in parliamentary system and as the president I am trying to do ... everything within my authority to ensure that state institutions are working in harmony,” he said.
 
“The legislative and executive powers are in a way accountable through elections but the judicial system is in a different position. For them, independence and impartiality is much more important.”
 
Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK Party has relied on its economic record to maintain the support of many Turks.
 
But the corruption scandal is shaking investor confidence at a time when the lira currency is weakening, inflation rising and growth slowing, risking tipping the nation into its greatest period of political instability in a decade - just before local and national elections this year and next.
 
“Economic stability comes first,” said Gul, who co-founded the AK Party with Erdogan more than a decade ago.
 
“If there is a worsening in the economy we would be shooting ourselves in the foot. If there is any deterioration in confidence, that will be the biggest damage to the country.”
 
Erdogan, who has won three elections, is barred by party rules from standing for a fourth term as prime minister and is widely expected to run instead for the presidency in August.
 
That has generated speculation that Gul, rather than running against Erdogan, could become prime minister in general elections currently scheduled for 2015.
 
Gul declined to be drawn.
 
“It is too early for me to say anything on this, but I would like to add that nobody should put a risk premium for Turkey on this issue,” he said.
 
“To be frank nothing has been discussed until now, I want everyone to know this. We will have three elections in the next two years and I believe Turkey will complete these as a mature democracy.”

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid