Ending two-month-long speculations about his health, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denied rumors that he is suffering from cancer during an interview with Turkish journalist Mehmet Ali Birand last week.
The idea that Erdoğan has cancer and has been keeping it secret have been circulating since the prime minister underwent surgery on Nov. 26, after which he removed himself from the public eye for more than a month. However, the prime minister has cleared up such speculation, declaring that he is not suffering from cancer and did not undergo chemotherapy. While some say Erdoğan should have made this statement before, without giving way to speculation, some others say the prime minister purposely kept silent about his health to separate his supporters from those pretending to support him.
Milliyet's Can Dündar said that although he respects Erdoğan's decision to keep his medical situation secret after his surgery, he thinks that because Erdoğan is the prime minister of the country, the situation of his health influences the man on the street, the course of domestic and foreign politics and the future of the country and so he could have been more transparent about his health from the very beginning. Dündar said the only way Erdoğan could have dealt with the emergence of speculation about his health would have been through a policy of transparency through which Erdoğan could tell the public about his medical situation, but he did not do this.
“He insistently kept his silence on this issue to the very end. By following a policy of secrecy, he also made his inner circle and press advisers keep silent on the issue. What happened as a result? Rumors about Erdoğan's health began and spread everywhere.” Dündar wishes Erdoğan had made the statement about his health seven weeks ago to prevent all the gossip and debates about his health. He also addressed the rivals of the prime minister and told them to give up making plans for the future over Erdoğan's health and become a more effective opposition. “In brief, let's wish Erdoğan a healthy life and stop all this unnecessary talk about his health,” said Dündar.
Yeni Akit's Hasan Karakaya regrets the fact that some circles who seemingly love Erdoğan, believing the rumors about his health, began to analyze who would assume the leadership of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) after he was gone or who would be the next prime minister and president. “Now, it turns out that Erdoğan does not have cancer, he did not have chemotherapy and he will even resume his visits abroad in March. What will they [those who were so eager to see Erdoğan have cancer] do now? They will either continue with the same attitude or make a U-turn back to Erdoğan's side. I think during the two-month period [that Erdoğan kept silent about his health], he made an assessment and judgment about those who really support him and those who seem to support him but are ready to turn their backs on him at any time,” Karakaya said.