Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took part in a joint broadcast on NTV and Star TV in which he responded to questions by a panel with SABAH Newspaper columnist Mehmet Barlas, NTV News Coordinator Nermin Yurteri and Star News Coordinator Nazlı Öztarhan, which was moderated by Oğuz Haksever.
The following are a series of highlights from Prime Minister Erdoğan's responses:
I HAVE ALSO BEEN TORTURED: "We put a title on it. We were the ones to announce the national unity and brotherhood project. It's all there; therefore I am truly curious as to what part of this could be criticized. Of course, I say clearly; two wrongs don't make a right. You can't clean one mess with another. I have already expressed my sentiments regarding the Diyarbakır Prison. I have also been tortured." (Erdoğan was referring to the recent attention drawn to torture cases seen in the infamous Diyarbakır prison in the 1980's.)
GOVERNMENT INSTRUMENTS WILL BE USED: "The state also has an arm and a leg in Oslo and İmralı on the issue. Governments can use means such as this in an appropriate place and manner. The whole world does the same. You can see this in Spain, England and in Ireland. However, if their extensions in parliament have no authority or they are seen embracing and kissing terrorists, then we will not hold talks with them."
THAT IS NOT OUR PATH: In reference to a comment made by Deputy PM Arınç on Dec, 16th in which he stated, "If I had been tortured I would have also gone up into the mountains," Erdoğan said, "No, this is not our path."
ONLY ULUDERE IS DISCUSSED: In reference to the Uludere incident, in which 34 civilians were killed, mistaken for terrorists, Erdoğan said, "Yesterday in parliament someone yelled out, 'This is genocide.' However, those that say this are paying no heed to the attacks in Gediktepe, Başbağlar and Bingöl. They don't talk about the soldiers we lost, but instead continue to keep Uludere on the agenda for a year now. Even before the ongoing trial comes to a ruling, the terrorist organization and its extensions continue to say it is imperative we apologize. If necessary, we will apologize in the future."
WE WILL NOT FALL INTO THE DERSİM MISTAKE: I apologized on behalf of the state at that time in Dersim. We do not want to fall into the same mistake. I have expressed my sadness and I am pursuing the Uludere issue. However, before the court has even reached a ruling, the terrorist organization and its extensions say we have to apologize. But why not in the future? If I hadn't shared my sensitivity to the issue, would my Deputy Prime Minister, my wife or my daughter have gone? I shared my sentiments and I sent them all there."
SEPARATION OF POWERS
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also clarified his position to the issue of separation of powers, when asked by the panel whether he was against it.
"I am the leader of a party which is the staunchest supporter of a separation of powers in Turkey. We are the ones bearing the responsibility. Those who are not carrying that weight can speak comfortably.
What we call the separation of powers has been defined by the constitution as well as legislative, executive and judicial laws which determine each specific area of action. However, there have been times in our country where the judiciary has overstepped on legislation. For example, we experienced the 367 incident in which the judiciary intervened in the assembly and in legislature for the presidential vote." (Erdoğan was referring to the constitutional court requiring the convening of 367 deputies as a precondition for voting on candidates in parliament.)
"We have experienced other issues in the judiciary's executive powers which have held up a number of tenders including for Galataport, Haydarpaşaport, İBB's İETT garage and the Izmir Port.
In a presidential system does the separation of powers simply dissipate? Is there such a thing? Quite the contrary it is even further strengthened as is the influence of the parliament."
In reference to President Abdullah Gül's statement that the separation of powers is what democracy is based on, which he said upon exiting a mosque in Istanbul after the Friday prayer, Erdoğan said, "We feel the same way."
THE METU ADMINISTRATION IS NOT BEING FORTHRIGHT
Prime Minister Erdoğan also commented on the protests held on the campus of Ankara's Middle Eastern Technical University the day of the launch ceremony held on its premises for the GÖKTÜRK-2 observation satellite.
"This university's administration is not being forthright. What kind of university are you running there; we should have been proud to be launching Turkey's satellite. If these are the students you are raising then our country is sunk. While our students should have been proud, they were burning tires."
When asked a question regarding President Gül's absence at the satellite launching ceremony, Erdoğan responded by stating, "The Turkish Scientific and Technological Research Council (TÜBİTAK) is in charge of the organization. I wish they hadn't overlooked inviting President Gül."
THE JUDICIARY HAS THE FINAL WORD ON ERGENEKON
"I am not as brave as Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu (the chairman of the main opposition party CHP). There is a judicial process. I personally have no authority to intervene in this process. We will respect whatever the judiciary decides."
THE DEPUTIES WERE ALREADY UNDER ARREST
"We never promised that imprisoned deputies would be released. The CHP Chairman puts us under suspicion by acting as if we made a promise we never made. We never promised anyone that they would be released following a vote in parliament. They were all already under arrest. There are even convicted members amongst them. They made them MP candidates under the logic that this would get them out of prison."
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IS DROPPING
"Violence against women is not actually increasing in Turkey, it is decreasing. In the past, the media didn't follow these sorts of issues. Therefore, because it wasn't seen in the media in the past, it is now acknowledged more which adds additional burden."
LET ME DIE BEFORE MY WIFE
While discussing the issue of the late former President Turgut Özal being poisoned, Erdoğan was asked if he has his wife taste his food for him. Prime Minister Erdoğan responded with "If my wife is going to get poisoned then let me get poisoned. How is that possible? Let me die before my wife. If my wife dies before me then who is going to take care of me?"
This is a translation of an article originally written by Mesut Er and Hasan Ay.