Former politicians call on candidates to publicize personal assets


Date posted: December 29, 2013

ANKARA
One hundred politicians who previously served in Parliament, including former ministers, issued a declaration on Saturday calling on the candidates in the upcoming local elections to declare their personal assets to the public to prevent allegations of bribery and corruption.

“Education, prevention and investigation processes [in the fight against bribery and corruption] are important. We perceive the declaration of personal assets by mayoral candidates, candidates for provincial and municipal councils on the eve of local elections and in the proceeding election calendar as a measure against bribery and corruption. We do not have the right to lose hope. We hope for democracy and good governance. Elections are an opportunity, a chance [to this end],” read the declaration. The local elections are planned to be held in March 2014.

The Cabinet was shaken by the resignations of three ministers on Wednesday over a sweeping corruption and bribery investigation, with one of the ministers calling on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to step down as well.

Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan and Interior Minister Muammer Güler announced their resignations earlier in the day. They denied any involvement in corruption or bribery and said their resignations were aimed at helping the “truth to come out.”

However, Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar, in a harsh statement, claimed that he had been pressured to submit his own resignation to save the prestige of the government, adding that the prime minister should also quit as most of the amendments on construction plans mentioned in the corruption investigation were made on Erdoğan’s orders.

Former deputy prime ministers of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Ertuğrul Yalçınbayır and Abdullatif Şener, former Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Türk, former Tourism and Promotion Minister Orhan Birgit, former Transportation Minister Enis Öksüz, former Finance Minister Zekeriya Temizel, former Commerce and Culture Minister Agah Oktay Güner, former Culture Minister Namık Kemal Zeybek, and former state ministers Tayfun İçli and Ufuk Söylemez are among the 100 politicians who have signed the declaration.

“We are going through a process in which bribery and corruption allegations have become prevalent and even institutionalized,” the declaration read. “Everyone has rights, duties and responsibilities to have better communication, participation, rule of law, openness, transparency, accountability, auditing, equality, activity and strategic vision,” it added.

The resignations came eight days after the launch of the investigation which resulted in the arrests of the sons of Çağlayan and Güler as well as over 20 other suspects, including Halkbank General Manager Süleyman Aslan and Iranian-Azerbaijani businessman Reza Zarrab.

In response, Prime Minister Erdoğan spoke at the AK Party’s expanded provincial chairmen meeting and called the corruption operation an “international plot” supported by some collaborators within the country who aim to sow discord in Turkey. In several explicit references to the Hizmet movement, inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, the prime minister claimed that the operation was orchestrated by “gangs” and a “parallel state.” He also said the operation has cost Turkey some $20 billion.

In addition, Erdoğan criticized the definition of the operation as a corruption and bribery operation, which he said is aimed at discrediting some “people already proven to be clean.” “If there is a flaw in the legal system, we will fight against it within the area of our authority. We are a political party that acts with principles,” he said, adding, “We will get rid of the rotten ones,” in a veiled reference to AK Party members who are involved in corruption and bribery.

The prime minister also directed criticism at the opposition parties which have lashed out at the AK Party government over corruption claims. He said the opposition parties were already involved in unlawful practices, including corruption and fraud, and thus have no right to speak out against the government.

The declaration states that in the fight against bribery and corruption all powers — the legislative, the executive and the judiciary– as well as all state agencies and institutions, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations and the public need to cooperate and to have an action plan.

Source: Today's Zaman , December 29, 2013


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