Newspapers claimed Çiçek had meetings with Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday, where he raised the issue of a number of deputies who have not been released from jail despite having been elected to Parliament in the general elections last year.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Çiçek did not rule out the efforts currently being made to resolve the problem regarding the jailed deputies; however, he criticized media outlets for revealing the talks prematurely and partially incorrectly.
“Politics is a serious business. If we are tackling an issue, we need to be serious and not water it down,” he said.
Çiçek also ruled out having met with CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu on Tuesday.
“It seems that some circles like playing to the audience rather than wanting the settlement of this problem. There are efforts to gain political benefits over such a case. When there has not been significant progress on this issue and when certain agreements have not yet been reached, exposing the efforts being made for the settlement of this problem is simply seeking to benefit politically from this issue,” Çiçek said.
All the opposition parties -- the CHP, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) -- have deputies currently in prison.
The CHP's jailed deputies, Mustafa Balbay and Mehmet Haberal, and Engin Alan of the MHP face coup charges, while the BDP's six deputies in jail face charges of membership in the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organization that prosecutors say includes the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Courts have the right not to release individuals elected to Parliament if they are standing trial on terrorism-related charges. Article 14 of the Constitution clearly states that an individual on trial for crimes against the “territorial integrity of the state” cannot benefit from diplomatic, parliamentary or any other kind of immunity.
The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and MHP are approaching the process of finding a solution to the issue on the condition that any amendment agreed upon should make it impossible for the administrators of terrorist organizations to run for Parliament.
BDP parliamentary group deputy chairman Hasip Kaplan told Today's Zaman that his party will listen to proposals from other parties and make a statement following today's meeting.