Agents, traitors can’t rule Turkey, says PM Erdoğan
“Everyone will know their place,” Erdoğan told a boisterous crowd of Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters in the Black Sea province of Giresun. “Let our friends and foes know this. Whoever dares to harm, stir up or set traps in this country, whoever tries to touch our independence, we will come to break those hands,” he said.
The probe into allegations of widespread bribery by members of Erdoğan’s government has exposed a bitter feud between the AKP and influential Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose followers hold top positions in the police, judiciary and secret services.
Twenty-four people have been charged so far in connection with the investigation, including the sons of Interior Minister Muammer Güler and Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, as well as the chief executive of state-owned Halkbank.
The Turkish government has so far championed the idea that the investigation was an “international conspiracy” against the AKP.
“Turkey is no longer the Turkey of old,” Erdoğan said. “Turkey is no longer a country where dark centers, their tongues, traitors and spies come and do what they want.” “In the last week, a conspiracy started in Turkey with some factors in the judiciary and police,” the prime minister added. “Under the guise of corruption, there is an ugly, unjust trap. I say it, corruption is just a cover. Never believe the perception they are trying to create.”
A day earlier, four separate pro-government newspapers reported US Ambassador to Turkey, Francis J. Ricciardone calling the incident “fall of an empire” to EU Ambassadors in the country in a meeting on the day the investigation became public. However, the U.S. Embassy categorically denied such a statement and that there was such a meeting.
During his speech, Erdoğan once again blamed international plotters and “very dirty alliances” for attempting to create chaos in the country and stood firm behind the ministers named in the graft probe. “It is not all about corruption,” he said. “The nation will respond to those who attempt to set traps in order to tarnish ministers.”