Date posted: December 29, 2013
Former Deputy Prime Minister and a former leading member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Ertuğrul Yalçınbayır said on Sunday that bribery and corruption have always been in Turkish politics and that there is a tendency toward the institutionalization of such crimes in the country.
Speaking to Today’s Zaman, Yalçınbayır stressed that in order to prevent the institutionalization of bribery and corruption, transparency in personal assets is necessary.
“Let’s take some positive steps [in fighting against bribery and corruption] and make personal assets transparent. Let’s show that those assets can be monitored. There is currently a declaration of wealth but it is confidential. Why is this so? Let’s make it open [to the public] and auditable. This [making open declarations of wealth] was on the government’s and previous governments’ agenda. But the necessary progress has not been made on the issue,” said Yalçınbayır.
Turkey was shocked when İstanbul and Ankara police staged dawn raids and detained over 50 people on Dec. 17 in a corruption investigation. Among the detainees were officials, well-known businesspeople and the sons of three ministers. Allegations emerged that several ministers were involved in bribery.
Yalçınbayır said that although investigation mechanisms in Parliament do not currently function properly, the people responsible will eventually be held accountable.
The sons of two ministers as well as over 20 other suspects have been arrested. The suspects stand accused of rigging state tenders, accepting and facilitating bribes for major urbanization projects, obtaining construction permits for protected areas in exchange for money, helping foreigners obtain Turkish citizenship with falsified documents and involvement in export fraud, forgery and gold smuggling. Some claim that the suspects illegally sold historic artifacts unearthed during the construction of the Marmaray rail project connecting the European and Asian sides of İstanbul.
Three ministers — Interior Minister Muammer Güler, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan and Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar — resigned from their posts on Dec. 25 while denying any involvement in corruption or bribery.
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.
Commenting on Erdoğan’s parallel state claims, Yalçınbayır said the government has established a structure based on intelligence and security which sees the gathering of volunteers as an army against their government and prevents freedom of association.
“People working in state cadres might sympathize with a community; this is normal. But if someone labels this as establishing cadres or a parallel state, he creates a rift in society and prevents the right to freedom of association. This is not only anti-democratic but also inhumane,” Yalçınbayır added.
Source: Today's Zaman , December 29, 2013