ISTANBUL: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose Islamist-leaning government is engulfed in a corruption scandal, yesterday called the political crisis a “plot” against Turkey’s “future and stability” by rival forces.
At a luncheon in Istanbul with generally pro-government intellectuals, writers and journalists, Erdogan reiterated his view that shadowy groups in Turkey and abroad are conspiring to oust him from power.
“What they wanted to do was an attempted assassination of the national will,” he said in the address later shown on television.
“They tried to carry out a judicial coup in Turkey.... But we are going to oppose this operation, this December 17 plot that targeted the future, the stability of our country,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan’s conspiracy charges are in reaction to a vast corruption investigation that led to the arrests on December 17 of key allies including high-profile businessmen and the sons of former ministers.
The prime minister was forced to reshuffle his cabinet after three key ministers — fathers to the implicated sons — resigned. Some lawmakers have also quit his Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The corruption scandal has affected the economy with the Turkish lira currency at a record low against the dollar and shares tumbling on the Istanbul stock exchange this week.
Erdogan yesterday expressed confidence that Turkey would overcome its current difficulties. He pointed to municipal elections set for March as a test for the regime in upcoming presidential elections in August.
“We will not allow a cloud to be cast over Turkey’s future,” Erdogan said.
Meanwhile Turkish President Abdullah Gul has promised that any corruption would not be hushed up.
“If acts of corruption are covered up, society will disintegrate,” said Gul on television Friday night. “Nothing must be hidden. Those who have not committed a crime, have nothing to fear.”
Gul and Erdogan were co-founders of the AKP in 2001. Since a government crackdown in June on protesters opposed to plans to develop an Istanbul park, the two leaders have carefully avoided any confrontation but they have been demonstrating different styles in the crisis — Erdogan is seen as authoritarian while Gul has appeared as a unifier.