The prime minister also called on critics of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) to apologize for their accusatory stance against the party. Shortly after the bloody assault, many columnists, members of the judiciary and politicians had pointed to the ruling party as the cause for the bloody attack, saying it encouraged reactionary activities in the country.
“Columnists are hopping mad when they are reminded of what they wrote then. Why don't they write [on the Council of State attack] now? What will they say about the ruling party which they previously attacked? They attacked our sacred values. They tried to associate the attack with our values,” Erdoğan stated.
His remarks came during a televised program on TGRT Haber on Wednesday evening.
On May 17, 2006, Alparslan Arslan, a lawyer by profession, shot at members of the Council of State, killing a senior judge. The hit man said he attacked the court to protest a ruling it had made against the headscarf. But it was later revealed that he was connected to Ergenekon, a criminal organization accused of working to overthrow the government.
A recent TÜBİTAK examination on the security cameras at the Council of State showed that the devices were not out of order at the time of the attack, as previously claimed. The report also said some of the footage from the cameras was renamed and later deleted by unidentified individuals.
“They included the Council of State attack into a closure case against my party. What will they say now?” the prime minister asked.
The attack was included in an indictment against the AK Party aiming to shut it down on charges of undermining secularism and becoming a “focal point” for religious extremist activity. Recent developments, however, have indicated that the Council of State hit man did not have religious motives.
Erdoğan also called on the OYAK Security Company, which guarded the Council of State at the time of the shooting, to explain the destroyed footage. “OYAK should explain. They should clarify what happened. Can they do this? What we should know is one can destroy camera footage, but everything is recorded in consciences. No one can destroy them,” he remarked. There were claims that the OYAK Security Company, which was made up of retired military officers who had served in the Special Forces Command, may have played a significant role in tampering with evidence in the Council of State attack.
Also on Wednesday, AK Party Adana deputy Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat told a Turkish daily that former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer should apologize to the ruling party for his remarks after the 2006 shooting. “I think Sezer’s statement resulted from misinformation. However, he should have apologized for his remarks later. We can talk about two reasons if he refuses to apologize. He may either be a part of the organization [which pushed for the attack] or he does not have the moral values to apologize for his mistakes,” Fırat told the Taraf daily. Shortly after the Council of State shooting, Sezer said the attack targeted the “secular republic,” implying that the AK Party could have prompted the assault.
‘Appeal to top court a CHP habit’
In response to a question over his party’s reaction to a plan by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to take the constitutional amendment package to the Constitutional Court for nullification, the prime minister said: “Appealing to the top court has become a CHP habit. This is an incident unprecedented in the republic’s history. The Constitutional Court has become the ‘main opposition court’.”
Erdoğan also denounced opposition efforts to hinder Parliament from passing the articles included in the constitutional reform package.
“We stayed overnight in Parliament for 10 days. There are unnecessary attempts to hinder Parliament from working. Parliament is delayed for six or seven hours before starting to vote on the reform articles. They [opposition members] do not address Parliament to make a contribution. They talk only in order to talk,” he said. Since the beginning of the voting process on the articles last week, the CHP has refused to participate in the process while deputies of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) voted against the amendments.
Parliament is slated for a second round of voting on the reform package starting May 2.
The prime minister rejected once again opposition calls for early elections. He said the public should not mix a referendum on the reform package with parliamentary elections.
According to the prime minister, the AK Party’s public support is currently stronger than during the March 2009 local elections. “I have opinion polls conducted every month. The AK Party has gained the appreciation of the public. My people will make their decision in July 2011 [during the planned parliamentary elections.] Our public support is greater than in local polls,” he remarked.
‘I was surprised by e-memo’
Asked about what he thinks about a memorandum published near midnight on April 27, 2007, on the official website of the General Staff, warning the AK Party government to put a halt to its alleged Islamist activities, Erdoğan said the memorandum surprised him. “It was a very different thing. It surprised me. Where was the country’s economy then? And where is it now? My friends gave their response to the memorandum the next day. No one should dare give a lesson on secularism to the ruling party,” he remarked.
The April 27 statement, more commonly referred to as the “e-memorandum” because it was published online, said the military was following with “concern” the debate over the secular system in the presidential election and would “openly display its position and attitude when it becomes necessary.”
The prime minister also said his government would reconsider its “stance” on May 1 celebrations in Taksim Square if the celebrations are marred once again by provocations.