Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has strongly denied a claim by the Taraf daily that President Abdullah Gül intervened to persuade Arınç not to resign from his post following his dispute with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during last week's Cabinet meeting.
The dispute, according to the daily, arose when Erdoğan told Arınç that he found Arınç's remarks on the Gezi Park demonstrations wrong. Following this, Arınç reportedly left the Cabinet meeting, saying that he would both resign from his post as deputy prime minister and leave the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). When Arınç could not be convinced to return by other ministers, Gül reportedly stepped in to convince Arınç not to resign.
Commenting on Taraf's report through his Twitter account on Thursday afternoon, Arınç denied the claim and added, “I'm afraid this reporting is not the product of a good intention.”
Alluding to rumors in the Turkish media that Prime Minister Erdoğan has bitter relations with the AK Party administration, Arınç said: “This dirty scheme, which intends to show our prime minister as ‘bad' and ‘lonely' is unavailing and meaningless. With the help of God and support of our people, we are overcoming every single game and scheme played against our government to halt our dreams of creating a greater Turkey.”
Unlike Erdoğan, Arınç, who became acting prime minister when Erdoğan went on a five-day visit abroad earlier this month, adopted a more reconciliatory tone regarding the Gezi Park demonstrators who took to the streets in protest of government plans to demolish Gezi Park in central İstanbul's Taksim Square.
While Erdoğan was abroad, Arınç met with Gül about the protests and then held a news conference during which he apologized for the undue and disproportionate use of force by police against an initially peaceful group of protesters in Gezi Park.
He made a distinction between the peaceful demonstrations held by environmentalists and the ensuing violent protests.
According to reports, Erdoğan, who remained defiant in the wake of the protests, was angry at Arınç for offering an apology to the demonstrators.
The government caused the protests to spread nationwide and drew criticism abroad due to a police crackdown that began on May 31 against the environmentalists and other activists in Taksim Square protesting plans to cut down trees and redevelop the adjacent Gezi Park. Thousands have flooded the streets nightly since then, many honking car horns, banging pots and waving Turkish flags.
Prime Minister Erdoğan, who was re-elected in 2011 and has held power for 10 years, mobilized his supporters over the weekend for two huge rallies at which he insisted his duty is to keep order, railed against media coverage of the protests and lashed out at unspecified foreigners who he claims want to hurt Turkey.