Erdoğan blasts ex-deputy PM Arınç for condemning jailing of Kavala, Demirtaş

This article was originally published by Ahval on 22 November. The original can be found here.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday slammed Presidential High Advisory Board member and former deputy prime minister Bülent Arınç over his remarks criticising the jailing of philanthropist Osman Kavala and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş.

Arınç is using the government’s judicial reform plans to “set a fire of discord’’ in the country, Birgün newspaper cited Erdoğan as saying in an online speech he delivered during a regional congress for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“In recent days, we are witnessing an effort to spark a flame of discord with certain individual statements, which have no relation to us, under the pretext of the emphasis we have placed on (announced) reforms,’’ Erdoğan said. “We can never be together with those who have financed the Gezi events and the Kavalas.’’

Arınç on Friday criticised the members of the judiciary for the indictments on the cases of Kavala and Demirtaş, accused of charges related to a failed military coup in 2016 and terror link, respectively.

Arınç, a lawyer by training, dismissed the indictments against the pair, saying, “even a child would not write these,’’ while accusing prosecutors of making up “evidence-based on suspicion.’’ The former deputy prime minister also said he was “amazed’’ that Kavala was behind bars and Demirtaş, too, could be released.

In February, businessman Kavala was acquitted of charges related to alleged involvement in the nationwide 2013 Gezi Park protests only to be re-arrested the same day on charges related to the failed military coup of 2016.  Ankara accuses a religious group, the Gülen movement, of orchestrating the failed putsch.

Demirtaş, the former chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has been behind bars since November 2016 on a string of terror charges.

Earlier this month, Erdoğan announced far-reaching economic and judicial reforms geared towards stabilising the legal situation and improving the country’s investment climate.

Meanwhile, Presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın on Saturday said Turkey-U.S. relations would be shaped by U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s stance and policies on the Gülen movement and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for almost four decades.

“The Biden administration has still not been formed, we will see what happens when it does,” the Erdoğan aide said during a live broadcast with Turkey’s NTV, noting that the two groups continue to pose a security threat to the country.

Turkey designates both group terrorist organisations and has repeatedly requested for Washington to extradite the U.S.-based leader of the Gülen movement, Fethullah Gülen. The U.S. has denied the requests.