Former deputy prime minister and a founding member of Turkey’s ruling party AKP (Justice and Development Party) Abdüllatif Şener shared his views and observations about constitutional amendment process with BirGün reporter Meltem Yılmaz.
Saying ‘parliamentarians who are in support of the proposed constitutional change have respect neither for themselves nor for people of Turkey’, Şener stated that the country is currently ‘in a time period where things are at a stage beyond suspension of democracy.’
‘Parliamentarians and political parties will have no value’
Underlining that proposal suggests for the office of the prime minister to be eliminated and the president to take on the roles of the prime minister, Şener added parliamentarians are left with almost no power, saying: “I think, anyone who has respect for herself/himself, be it an MP of AKP or another party, would absolutely not approve this constitutional amendment. It is so obvious that this proposed change would deactivate the legislative body completely and parliamentarians and political parties would have no value and place.”
‘If the president doesn’t want it, even a legislated law won’t be put in force’
Şener stated that while the number of parliamentarians is to be increased to 600, the veto power remains in the hands of the president as he can decide not to put in force a law that is passed in the parliament for the second time after having been vetoed by the president. Explaining that this is made possible through the lifting of the current term in the Constitution where it’s ordered that a ‘legislated law must be published in the official gazette within 15 days’ in order to be officially put in force, Şener emphasized that this would give the president an unlimited power to delay releasing of the official announcement about any given law.
Şener says about this: “This means that if the president does not want it, a law will not be put in force even if all of the 600 parliamentarians are to be in consensus about it.”
Reminding that the president will also have legislative power through executive decrees, Şener added: “Not only having the ability to no put in force a law approved in the parliament, the president will also be able to pass statutory decrees. So, she/he will have consolidated all legislative power under her/his authority and run the country through decrees…”
‘Liberals began criticizing Erdoğan and AKP only after they began feeling the harm, too’
Touching on the government officials’ defense method, where they constantly say ‘we have been deceived’, Şener said: “… I think, our people are rotten to the core. You would go around as an ‘intellectual’, yet, you would be ‘deceived.’ Even the president keeps saying ‘I have been deceived.’ Not only them, but so many people in this country seem to be saying ‘I have been deceived.’ When the fundamental rights and freedoms of some people had been violated in this country and while the laws were being used in a biased manner, some liberal intellectuals used to defend policies and the government of Erdoğan… When, one day, they began to get harmed (by those policies), they started to say there was no democracy left in the country and that freedoms were being violated.”
‘I am the only one from AKP who did not get involved with FETÖ’
When asked about why the blame on everything, including even assassinaiton of Russian Ambassador Karlov, is being put on FETÖ, Şener said that everyone in AKP had been involved in Fethullah Gülen community one way or the other, adding: “I can assert readily that there is nobody in AKP who has not got involved with FETÖ, except for me... The reason for them to put the blame for everything on them now is because that works for their own interests.”
Pointing out that all TV stations and newspapers are full of anti-FETÖ reports and news, Şener said ‘those in opposition have no say in anything; and, if they indeed do say something, they automatically get jailed by being accused of supporting FETÖ’.
'Government is influencing the judiciary’
Sharing his own personal experiences with AKP trolls on social media, Şener said he found these kinds of activities too dangerous, as they fuel hatred between groups with differing views.
Şener explained his views about how AKP also influences judiciary processes, giving the assassination of Karlov as the most recent example: “A police officer chanted parts of the anthem of Al-Nusra, a branch of Al-Qaide, before shooting the Russian Ambassador from his back in a cruel way. In other words, he (the officer) announced to the public that he was a supporter of Al-Nusra and was carrying out the attack in the name of Al-Nusra. That is what that anthem means. However, the State says ‘no, do not bother with what he said; FETÖ did this attack.’ This (statements of government officials) mean that it is also a command for the media and the judiciary...”
‘Assad actually received the greatest help from Turkey in Aleppo’
Commenting on the role of Turkey in Syria conflict, and, especially the latest developments in Aleppo, Şener said ‘the greatest support was actually given to Assad by Erdoğan’, and explained: “… Support for the opposition groups were probably diminished with intervention of Russia. One of the strongest groups there was Ahrar al-Sham. They left Aleppo quietly. And, foreign groups made up of around 5000 militants connected to Al-Nusra remained there. And, they had tried to keep their presence there by using civilians as their shield. Taking the role of mediator, Turkey enabled them to surrender or leave Aleppo; therefore, Assad received the greatest help in Aleppo from Turkey… Screaming out ‘murderer Assad’, they’re trying to cover this truth from being revealed… They (AKP government) have to realize shift of their Syria policy as quietly as possible, without revealing it…”
‘What’s being done to HDP is harming the country greatly’
Abdüllatif Şener reminded that although AKP used to ‘promote peace with Kurds’ with its ‘democratic opening’ policies, it is now vowing to ‘not allow HDP to survive’ and appointing trustuee in place of elected officials of the Kurdish movement in Turkey. Şener added: “It is a great mistake to jail HDP parliamentarians and appoint trustees to municipalities. And, the fact that this is done in order to boost the party’s (AKP’s) votes is harming the country greatly.”
‘Today, only one person thinks and speaks for the whole country in Turkey’
Referring to the widespread usage of the word ‘traitor’ both among government officials and certain parts of the society in support of the government in Turkey, Şener said: “Today, only one person decides on who is to be called a traitor in Turkey… We’ve come to a point where only one person thinks and speaks for the whole country. And, those who do not think or speak like him (Erdoğan) are considered as ‘traitors.’ And, this is time period where things are currently at a stage beyond suspension of democracy. This must be analyzed. An assassination takes place and he decides on who the perpetrator really is. And, all mechanisms begin working in line with his will. And, when you do not think like him, they eliminate your chance of living in this country. We are never sure about whether some ill-minded people wondering around on streets recklessly would attack us or not. Because, we now live in a country of that sort!”
‘When voices of opposition are silenced, the country gets dragged down to calamity’
Noting that President Erdoğan has actually been kind to him since day one, Şener underlined that he left the party because he believed its policies to be on the wrong track.
As one of the founding members of AKP who took part in drafting of party bylaws, Şener added: “Both during the time when I was a member and when I was the deputy prime minister, I criticized everything that I found to be wrong… Nobody should think that I am leading a comfortable life… This must be known very well: when voices of opposition are not worded out, the country gets dragged down to calamity.”
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