“Today’s prosecutors may be tomorrow’s defendants” – opposition vice president

The deputy leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Özgur Özel said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may well U-turn on the jailing of CHP deputy Enes Berberoğlu and turn on the prosecutors instead if it suits his political interests.

Here is the transcript of an interview he gave to Ahval:


On Monday, you stated that documents showed Ziya İlgen, Erdoğan’s brother-in-law, as being the owner of an offshore company remitting millions of dollars to Erdoğan’s family members.

When we first brought up these documents, they claimed that no such information existed. We provided them with the documents; they claimed the documents were fake. We suggested they set up a commission to investigate the authenticity of the documents and our allegations, stating they looked guilty otherwise. They refused to set-up such a commission and told us to give the documents to the press, which we did. This time they claimed that we gave the press copies and should give the originals to the prosecutors, which we did.

At the courthouse, (Justice and Development Party – AKP – spokesman) Mahir Ünal held a briefing, where he said, “We will not discuss these documents anymore.” They won’t discuss the actual contents of the documents, and it is obvious they are very worried.

Where is the president on this? The president is wherever the sun is in the solar system; he is in the centre of it all. His son and son-in-law are circling him, but there is also a company circling him, a company that is involved in tax evasion. Furthermore, his son-in-law Berat Albayrak, when he served as CEO at Albayraklar Corporation also had five off-shore accounts, for a total of nine offshore companies. This information appeared in the Paradise Papers. A man whose responsibility is to collect taxes, one who uses the tax laws as weapons against others, who has started a fight against the dollar, should not have any close relatives or friends doing business using the dollar and evading taxes in foreign markets; it is definitely a political issue.

The media wrote about the Paradise Papers. Sometime after that, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu revealed the Isle of Man documents. But, we are not hearing much about these documents. Everyone is very quiet. What are your thoughts on this?

Sadly, there is even a phrase in this country. “They steal, but at least they are working.” Now, the public does not even comment on whether the politicians are working or not. Today, the public has seen so much corruption, lawlessness, illegality, and nothing was done, they have become immune. Documents that would destroy 10 Scandinavian countries do not even result in the resignation of one minister here!

We also have to blame the state of emergency, (OHAL). We have an ongoing state of emergency, and its laws can affect all, these laws do not allow any questioning, but people can be picked up, taken from their homes, families, jobs, and many cannot speak or criticize the government openly because they are afraid. There is no-one to hear your complaint, because there is no just or fair courts system. I think this is the second reason why people do not criticise it openly.

There is a growing danger in the political system: threats seem to have become the norm.

In Turkey, the ruling party does not talk in political language, but uses street language, mafia verbiage, threatening language. This has grown in the 15 years in which the AKP has held the majority. But, such language and threats have increased sharply after the April referendum. Now, it is coming from the very top. It is worse now, because no one says anything against such language. During the referendum, when the “No” voters wanted to discuss this, they were called terrorists.

You have recently made many critical announcements, one after the other. One of these was the allegation that Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has his roots in the Fethullah Gülen movement (Cemaat).

We researched Soylu’s past. From January 2008 to May 2009, he was a very strong opponent of the AKP. Then, there was a period during which he was competing with Husamettin Cindoruk for leadership in the Democratic Party. Cindoruk alleges that Soylu was part of FETÖ during that period. He claims that Soylu gave the party to FETÖ.

Soylu claims Cindoruk was planning a coup, the language of FETÖ then. Then, Soylu was forced out of the party for voting “yes” when his party voted “no” during the September 12, 2010 referendum. The Cemaat was the AKP’s biggest supporter during the September 12 referendum.

Despite him screaming like a banshee now, when you look at his past, you find out that he was supported strongly by the Cemaat.  He was brought into the AKP when the AKP and the Cemaat were partners, so to speak. One of Soylu’s closest friends from that period, Vedat Demir, openly supported the July 15 coup. Demir was indicted and arrested and only released when Soylu became minister, which also attracted great attention.

CHP MP Enis Berberoğlu, is still in jail for his involvement with the MİT Trucks case. What can you say about the MT Truck case and Berberoğlu’s imprisonment?

Enis Berberoğlu is still in jail despite the case being thrown out. Now, we are waiting for him to be tried again and waiting for the court’s decision. But, the reality is, while maybe some judges do give out judgments, for the most part, in Turkey, Erdogan is the one who gives the order on who will be jailed and who will freed. Right now, it appears as if this case has been shut down, but it will be brought to court again. The prosecutors today on that case, may end up being defendants in the future.

There is a lot of talk from up high of early elections. Kılıçdaroğlu has said that there may be early elections before the economy worsens. Meral Akşener has said that elections are to be held on July 15. Do you think you will collaborate with the Good Party, as they wre de facto partners with you on your “No” campaign during the April 2016 referendum?

The Good Party is a right-wing, politically conservative party. There is a need for a right-wing party in Turkey. Where the Good Party positions itself regarding regime change and opposition to the Palace regime, it is valuable to us. If they maintain their current position, it looks like we may be on the same side. Bahceli, head of MHP, is allying his party with the ruling party. But, if there is a ruling party, it was established between those who said “no” on April 16. In this case, Bahceli has no choice but to ally himself with the Palace.