Tag Archives: Prime Minister of Turkey

Turkish prosecutor killed in hostage taking

An alleged millitant from the Turkish Marxist-Leninist left wing organisation, the DHKP-C, holds a gun to the head of prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz in Istanbul on Tuesday. A Turkish prosecutor probing the politically sensitive death of an anti-government protester was taken hostage by an armed group at an Istanbul courthouse, the Dogan news agency reported.

ISTANBUL — Two members of a banned leftist group and a prosecutor they held hostage inside a courthouse in Istanbul died Tuesday after a shootout between the hostage takers and police, officials said.

Istanbul’s police chief, Selami Altinok said police had negotiated with the gunmen for six hours before the violent end of the hostage situation.

The prosecutor, identified by the state-run Anadolu Agency and state television TRT as Mehmet Selim Kiraz, was shot in the head during the standoff and rushed to hospital where doctors tried to save his life, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier Tuesday.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and hospital officials later announced he had died.

Speaking in Ankara, Davutolgu said the hostage takers have been identified and had dressed up as lawyers in order to sneak in arms inside courthouse. He did not give any other new information.

Kiraz was the prosecutor investigating the death of a teenager who was hit by a police gas canister fired during nationwide anti-government protests in 2013.

A website close to the left-wing DHKP-C group said that militants from the banned organization had taken the prosecutor hostage at midday and had given authorities three hours to meet five demands, including forcing policemen held responsible for the teenager’s killing to confess to the death.

Members of special security forces stand outside the main courthouse in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday. Mehmet Selim Kirazis the prosecutor investigating the death of a teenager who was hit by a police gas canister fired during nationwide anti-government protests in 2013.

The group also demanded that the policemen be tried by “peoples’ courts” and for court officials to drop prosecutions or investigations against people who took part in protests denouncing the boy’s death. The website showed a picture of someone holding a gun to a man’s head with posters from the group in the background.

Deputy Chief Prosecutor Orhan Kapici confirmed that the incident was related to Kiraz’s investigation into the boy’s death.

The DHKP-C, which seeks a socialist state, is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.

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Turkish PM’s aide granted sick leave for ‘trauma’ after kicking mine tragedy mourner

Photo taken on May 14, 2014shows a person identified by Turkish media as Yusuf Yerkel, advisor to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, kicking a protester already held by special forces police members during Erdogan’s visit to Soma, Turkey.

A top aide to the Turkish PM, Ysuf Yerkel, has been given a week’s sick leave for “leg trauma” he sustained after kicking a mourner following Turkey’s worst mining disaster in history.

A picture of Yerkel kicking a protester who was being restrained by two security force members emerged last week following the official visit of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to the town of Soma in the wake of the mining disaster on May 13.

The image caused furor on the internet from an enraged public many of whom believed the government has dealt with the tragedy in an insensitive way.

On the same day as the incident, Yerkel saw a doctor at the Anakara Ataturk Training and Research Hospital, reported Turkish news agency Hurriyet, citing a medical report. Yerkel complained of a pain in his right knee, but told Dr. Servan Gokhan that it had come about after a fall. The aide was subsequently diagnosed with soft tissue trauma and granted a week of medical leave.

“There are 10×10 cm edema, bruises and soft tissue panicula on the right knee, and bruises and soft tissue swelling on the left shoulder and front of the chest. The patient has been diagnosed with soft tissue trauma as there is sensitivity with leg and arm movements and difficulty with walking,” the medical report said.

Yerkel claims that he was acting in self-defense, and that the man whom he kicked had attacked him. He also denounced the “provocations and insults” he had received and refused to apologize to his victim.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (C) walks during his visit to Soma, a district in Turkey’s western province of Manisa, after a coal mine explosion May 14, 2014.

“I have been deeply saddened by the incident that occurred in Soma on May 14. I am sorry for being unable to keep calm despite all of the provocations, insults and attacks I faced on that day,” said Yerkel, according to Anadolu Agency.

Witness accounts paint a different picture of the event. Hurriyet reports that Special Forces were interrogating the man after he kicked a vehicle in the prime minister’s convoy. When Yerkel saw the scene he reportedly ran over to the man and kicked him three or four times.

An explosion caused carbon monoxide to inundate a mine in the Western town of Soma, killing at least 302 people on May 13. In the wake of the tragedy Prime Minister Erdogan promised “no stone would be left unturned” in the investigation to ascertain what caused the disaster.

“Explosions like this in these mines happen all the time. It’s not like these don’t happen elsewhere in the world,” Erdogan told mourners in Soma last week.

His words were met by public anger and mass protests across Turkey.

Allegations of negligence have been leveled at the owners of the mine who claimed that they had adhered to safety protocol. On Monday a Turkish court arrested eight people in connection with the incident, including Ramazan Dogru, general manager of Soma Coal Mining Company, and Chief Executive Can Gurkan, the son of company owner Alp Gurkan.

The last mining accident on this scale in Turkey was recorded in 1992 when a firedamp blast killed 263 in Zonguldak.

General view of a coal mine site after an explosion in Soma, a district in Turkey’s western province of Manisa May 14, 2014.

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Turkey mine fire: Image of aide kicking Soma protester stokes anger

Yusuf Yerkel, an aide to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, kicks a person who is being wrestled to the ground by two police officers during protests in Soma, Turkey, on Wednesday, May 14.

Soma, Turkey (CNN) — The image of an aide to Turkey‘s Prime Minister kicking a man protesting the mine disaster that has claimed nearly 300 lives has prompted outrage — and has become a symbol of the anger felt against the government.

The incident occurred as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the western city of Soma a day after the devastating mine fire.

The man, detained by special forces, can be seen lying on the ground as the suited adviser to Erdogan, identified as Yusuf Yerkel by Turkish media and CNN Turk, aims a kick at him.

The shocking image outraged many in Turkey, prompting an outpouring of anger on social media, and is seen as symbolizing the increasingly polarizing impact of Erdogan’s authority on the country.

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Turkey’s Erdogan Says Lifting of Twitter Ban Should Be Overturned

ANKARA — Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday a constitutional court ruling lifting a ban on Twitter was wrong and should be overturned.

“The constitutional court’s ruling on Twitter did not serve

justice. This ruling should be corrected,” Erdogan told a parliamentary meeting of his AK Party.

Access to Twitter was blocked on March 21 in the run-up to local elections, but Turkey’s telecoms authority lifted the two-week-old ban last Thursday after the court ruled that the block breached freedom of expression.

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Turkey blocks Twitter after PM threatens to wipe it out

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Turkey has blocked Twitter hours after embattled Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan threatened to close it down ahead of a key election. It comes after audio recordings purportedly demonstrating corruption among his associates were posted on the site.

Just before midnight, access to Twitter was blocked, Hurriyet Daily reports.

“We now have a court order. We will wipe out Twitter,” the Islamist-leaning leader told a crowd of adulating supporters during a campaign rally in the northwestern city of Bursa on Thursday, AFP reported.

“I don’t care what the international community says. They will see the Turkish republic‘s strength,” Erdogan added.

According to the Press Advisory of the Prime Ministry, Twitter officials are currently ignoring court rulings demanding they remove some links.

[In Erdogan’s speech] it is stated that as long as Twitter fails to change its attitude of ignoring court rulings and not doing what is necessary according to the law, technically, there might be no remedy but to block access in order to relief our citizens,” the statement says, as quoted by Hurriyet.

Last month, Turkey passed a controversial law tightening control over the internet, raising major concerns about free speech. It enabled authorities to block access to web pages within hours without a prior court order.

The Communication Technologies Institution (BTK) lists four court rulings on its website as the reasons for the latest block.

Twitter Inc says it is looking into reports that it has been banned in Turkey, Reuters says.

Multiple recordings have recently emerged not just on Twitter, but also on Facebook and YouTube, purportedly showing Erdogan – whose AK Party dominates the parliament – illegally meddling in political, legal, business, and media affairs.

In one recording, he instructs his son to hide tens of millions of euros worth of cash in the house. In another, he tells off an editor of a major newspaper for producing negative coverage. Erdogan has dismissed most of the recordings as “vile fakes” and accused a “robot lobby” of targeting his government through Twitter.

The leader also threatened to shut down YouTube and Facebook – which is used by 35 million Turks – last month.

The run-up to the local elections on March 30 – which will be followed by parliamentary and presidential polls – has been marked by constant rancour, with allegations of fraud adding to the protests over corruption and the suppression of political and civil freedoms from the opposition.

But the AK Party, which has been in power since 2002, is set to maintain its supremacy, if polls are to be believed.

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Turkey’s Erdogan again threatens to ban social media

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses the crowd during an opening ceremony of a new metro line in Ankara March 13, 2014.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses the crowd during an opening ceremony of a new metro line in Ankara March 13, 2014.

(Reuters) – Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday repeated his threat to close down social media platforms including Twitter in Turkey and said he did not care about the potential backlash from the international community.

“We will wipe out all of these,” Erdogan told thousands of supporters at a rally in the northwestern province of Bursa.

“The international community can say this, can say that. I don’t care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is,” he said.

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New Scandal – Erdogan Government Hit With New Recording Of Alleged Corruption

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s regime, mired in a corruption scandal, suffered a new blow on Sunday with the online release of another allegedly incriminating phone call involving an ex-minister and a businessman.

The recording of the phone conversation posted on the Internet was purportedly between Reza Zarrab, an Azerbaijani entrepreneur, and a confidant to whom Zarrab explains how former economy minister Zafer Caglayan allegedly complained about not having received a promised kickback of 10 million euros ($13.8 million).

The voice supposedly of Zarrab says he was “very surprised” that the ex-minister hadn’t received the money which came from his company, saying it must have been “a mistake”.

Caglayan and three other ministers were ousted from Erdogan’s cabinet after a police raid on December 17 in the vast corruption probe, which involved Caglayan’s son and several dozen high-profile political and business allies of the Islamic-rooted government.

Zarrab was among those arrested in the raid and charged before being released last week along several other suspects pending trial.

According to police documents, the minister’s son Kaan Caglayan is accused of acting as an intermediary for giving and taking bribes, while Zarrab was suspected of forming a ring that bribed officials to disguise illegal gold sales to sanctions-hit Iran via state-owned Halkbank.

The latest online leak comes after a number of audio recordings were posted on social media sites, one allegedly of Erdogan himself discussing hiding large sums of cash and conspiring to extort a bribe from a business associate.

Erdogan, who has dismissed the recordings as fabricated by his rivals, has threatened to ban popular networks like YouTube and Facebook as part of his government’s effort to get a tighter grip on the Internet.

The Turkish premier has accused supporters of exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who wields considerable influence in the judiciary and police, of launching the corruption probe to destabilise his government ahead of March 30 local elections and a presidential vote in August.

via Erdogan Government Hit With New Recording Of Alleged Corruption – Business Insider.

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Erdoğan confirms tapes genuine, admits to meddling in judiciary

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has confirmed the authenticity of a voice recording in which he can be heard meddling in the judiciary by ordering a former justice minister to “closely monitor” judicial proceedings so that a media mogul would not get off scot-free.

At a meeting in Ankara on Wednesday with representatives of local media outlets from Turkey’s 81 provinces, Erdoğan dismissed criticisms directed at him regarding the recording. He said it was appropriate that he told former Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin to keep an eye on a court case concerning Aydın Doğan, the honorary chairman of Doğan Holding.

After a lower court ruled in Doğan’s favor in a trial over allegations that he broke the capital markets law, Ergin can be heard in the recording telling Erdoğan not to worry because the case would go to the Assembly of Criminal Chambers of the Supreme Court of Appeals for a final decision.

Erdoğan said on Wednesday that the SPK, which regulates markets, sectors and companies to ensure fair competition between firms, provided him with “very dangerous information” on Doğan. Doğan was involved in “parallel structures and dirty relations,” Erdoğan said to justify his actions. “This required me to tell [Ergin] to closely follow the case,” Erdoğan said, adding that he wanted this for his “country and nation.”

Doğan, whom the prime minister has criticized on a number of occasions over the years, owns a number of mainstream TV stations and newspapers that are critical of the government. In a statement run by his flagship media outlet, the Hürriyet daily, Doğan said the recorded conversation, if true, would mark a “clear interference in the judicial process.” He added that it could shake people’s trust in the rule of law in Turkey. Doğan called on the government to clarify the content of the phone recording or prove that the recording is invalid.

Erdoğan has been accusing the Hizmet movement of illegally wiretapping thousands of telephones in Turkey for years to create criminal cases against its enemies and try and influence governmental affairs. The movement’s representatives have denied these accusations and the government has not offered any tangible proof to back up its assertions so far. The wiretappings have been leaked by Twitter users with usernames like Haramzadeler, Başçalan and fuatavni. They claim that all the tapes were legally recorded under court orders as part of a series of graft probes that were interrupted after the government removed hundreds of prosecutors and as many as 10,000 police officers from their posts.

In another voice recording, the prime minister allegedly reproaches Ergin for failing to have kept adequate watch over the progress of Doğan’s case. “You said a hearing [of the case] was not conducted. [But] the hearing was conducted,” Erdoğan, who noted that the court had issued a verdict on July 2, can allegedly be heard saying.

In comments that, if authentic, could point to a policy of profiling against Turkey’s Alevi minority community, the voice attributed to Ergin says that the judge who ruled on the issue is of Alevi origin. In Turkey, Sunni Islam is widespread and Alevism is considered by some to be an unorthodox sect of Islam.

“This man [the judge] has announced a verdict. He defended the previous verdict of the court. Naturally, the SPK is shocked,” the prime minister can allegedly be heard saying.

Ergin, who is now running for mayor in the March 30 local elections in Hatay, where a respectable number of Alevis reside, has denied the validity of these phone conversations, claiming that the wiretappings were a “montage.” But Erdoğan contradicted him the next day when he admitted that he had actually called the minister.

Tender-rigging in MİLGEM

The prime minister also confirmed the authenticity of another voice recording released on Tuesday that revealed he had instructed a well-known shipping magnate, Metin Kalkavan, to engineer the reopening of a public bid on the national warship project (MİLGEM).

In the phone conversation, which was reportedly made in April 2013, Erdoğan asks Kalkavan, the owner of a maritime company, to say that the necessary conditions for competition had not been met in the initial bidding for MİLGEM. Although Kalkavan tells Erdoğan that his company failed to make an official application for the bid, Erdoğan insists that Kalkavan submit a petition to the Prime Ministry’s Coordination Center (BİMER).

The MİLGEM contract, which was awarded to Koç Holding subsidiary RMK Marine for $2.5 billion in January of 2013, was cancelled by the Defense Industry Implementation Committee (SSİK) in September, 2013. At a meeting chaired by Erdoğan and attended by Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, the SSİK approved a report prepared by the BTK on the MİLGEM contract that stated it was not in the public interest.

In another phone call alleged to date from Sept. 27, 2013, Erdoğan is claimed to have talked to Kalkavan again, instructing him to offer a competitive price in the new bid for MİLGEM.

Erdoğan justified his phone conversation with Kalkavan by saying that a businessman who had been sidelined during the tender had appealed to him. But the voice recording, if genuine, clearly shows Erdoğan instructing Kalkavan to reapply for the bid.

Prime Ministry building ‘cannot be destroyed’

Erdoğan also challenged those who have called on the Ankara Governor’s Office to halt construction of the Prime Ministry building on the Atatürk Forest Farm (AOÇ) following a court decision on Tuesday. “If they have the power, let them destroy it,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan said they “had done nothing illegal” and that they were planning to open the building either in April or May.

Tilting at windmills

Embattled by serious corruption allegations since Dec. 17, 2013, Erdoğan has characterized a “parallel state” structure as the culprit behind these “fabricated” voice recordings, which allegedly aim to harm the image of his government in society. The prime minister has confessed that several of the recorded conversations actually took place. He accused the “parallel state” of tapping his encrypted phone calls, a comment which was interpreted by many as an admission of the authenticity of those recordings. Erdoğan, however, denies certain conversations with his son Bilal, which appear to demonstrate him ordering Bilal to get rid of nearly $1 billion in cash on the morning when the police raids started and another in which he advises Bilal not to take $10 million from a businessman until he brings the full amount he had promised.

For Erdoğan, these recordings are a part of a campaign to weaken his government ahead of the local elections that are scheduled for March 30 and the presidential elections in August. He has claimed that this “parallel structure,” a phantom villain that he never clearly identifies, has intercepted not only his conversations but also those of other statesmen, including President Abdullah Gül.

Gül: No bug in my office

Gül instructed the State Supervisory Council (DDK) to examine the regulations governing the wiretapping of communications as part of a review of Turkey’s capacity to tackle graft in state institutions on Tuesday. He also asked the auditors to examine the process by which judges and prosecutors are chosen and to assess the rules surrounding “state secrets,” despite the fact that he had previously approved a controversial government bill concerning the structure of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which will vest the government with unchecked power in the judiciary. His approval of the law had come after commenting that 15 points of the law contradict the Constitution.

Gül told the press in Ankara on Tuesday that the DDK assessment should help to determine the shortcomings in the implementation of the laws. He also denied Erdoğan’s words that even the president’s office had been bugged and that his phones had been wiretapped. “But he told me that some audio surveillance really exists,” said Gül.

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New leaked recording reveals Erdoğan allegedly unhappy about $10 mln bribe

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A second audio recording, presented as the voice of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan asking his son not to accept an amount of money on offer in a business deal but to hold out for more, was published on YouTube by an anonymous poster using a pseudonym on Wednesday.

In the leaked voice recording, uploaded to YouTube and announced on Twitter by Haramzadeler, an unidentified Twitter user who has been leaking voice recordings of high-level state authorities, Erdoğan is allegedly heard talking with his son Bilal Erdoğan and telling him to reject $10 million from Sıtkı Ayan, the owner of Som Petrol, which had been granted tax-free incentives by the government to build new oil pipelines from Iran, saying that the amount was too low.

“Don’t take it. Whatever he has promised us, he should bring this. If he is not going to bring that, there is no need,” the voice on the latest recording, presented by a user under the pseudonym Haramzadeler as that of Erdoğan, says.

“The others are bringing. Why can’t he bring? What do they think this business is? … But don’t worry they will fall into our lap,” the voice says.

“We are going to check whether the tapes are fake or not and no statement is planned at the moment,” a senior government official told Reuters.

The recordings, which appeared within days of the ruling AK Party‘s official launch of a campaign for local elections at the end of March, are the latest and potentially most damaging allegations in a graft scandal that Erdoğan has cast as concocted to unseat him.

Late on Monday, his office released a statement describing the first recordings as “completely untrue and the product of an immoral montage.”

Full transcript of voice recording purportedly of Turkish PM Erdoğan and his son – Today’s Zaman, your gateway to Turkish daily news.

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Lale Akgün : ‘Erdogan’s days are numbered’

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Turkey’s corruption scandal has put the prime minister’s party under severe pressure. Lale Akgun, a German Social Democrat (SPD) politician with Turkish roots, says Erdogan fatally underestimated the Gulen movement.

Lale Akgün

DW: What effect are the latest developments having on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan?

Lale Akgun: He’s never been as insecure as he is right now. In the past few months, Erdogan thought that, little by little, he would be able to extend his power – that he was invulnerable. I think that after the riots in Gezi Park and with the corruption accusations that have now come to light, he’s more than just vulnerable: His days are numbered.

How closely does the corruption scandal touch him personally?

Very closely indeed. His son Bilal has been summoned to appear before the public prosecutor on January 2 – not as a witness, but as a suspect, on charges of corruption and money-laundering. It’s a ticking time-bomb in Erdogan’s house.

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Two ministers have already had to step down because their sons appear to have been involved in the corruption scandal. What does this mean, then, for Erdogan?

The analogy would be that Erdogan would also have to step down. But he’s already talking about how, once again, it’s all on account of these evil forces from abroad, who are now targeting his son in order to get at him. This means that Erdogan is going to try to cling to power for a while yet. But increasingly the judiciary is defying him because he’s also trying to undermine the separation of powers. Erdogan said a week ago that, if it weren’t for them, he could govern as he sees fit. On top of all this, more and more people are abandoning the sinking ship of the AKP.

The fact that the judiciary is now investigating the allegations of corruption in Turkish government circles – does that really come down to the followers of the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen?

Yes, I think so. But Gulen’s followers didn’t invent the corruption cases. People in Turkey have been saying for years that Erdogan and his immediate circle have made themselves phenomenally rich. It’s an open secret. Like most observers, I believe that Gulen’s followers have gone on the offensive now because they’re aggrieved that the movement’s schools have been closed down.

It used to be said that Erdogan’s AKP was like a bus with lots of very different people sitting in it. To begin with, there were intellectuals and leftists in there – people who believed the party would bring more democracy to Turkey. Now, though, more and more people are leaving the bus. The only ones still on board are the Milli Gorus people, and the followers of Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan thought: ‘I’ll chuck the Gulen lot off the bus myself.’ But he underestimated the power of these people. Some of them occupy key positions – and were appointed with Erdogan’s blessing.

We’re seeing a new wave of anti-Erdogan demonstrations now. The Gulen movement isn’t behind those. How strong is this sector of society, which belongs to neither of the two conservative camps?

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The third force in Turkey – as in, civil society – which genuinely does want more democracy and openness, really needs to form an organization now. But in the summer, I heard for myself how young people were saying that they didn’t see themselves as a political force: ‘We don’t want to form a party; we just want to be ‘anti.” But that’s not enough. This force – which has a lot of sympathizers – must be politically organized. If there were elections in Turkey, it would easily pass the 10-percent hurdle.

The Gezi movement is named after a park in Istanbul where citizens gathered last summer to protest against the government’s controversial construction plans. We saw at the time that all kinds of people, very different people, had taken to the streets, just as they have again over the past few days: young and old, women and men, a whole cross-section of society. Are they sufficiently in agreement to be able to found a party?

No – they’re only actually agreed on one thing: Erdogan has to go! That’s like the common denominator. And this will hold them together until Erdogan goes. My fear is that then Fethulah Gulen will present himself as a knight in shining armor and be celebrated by everyone because people think he’s the lesser evil.

The European Union has been negotiating with Turkey over EU entry for decades. How should it respond to the current situation?

The EU could be very helpful right now, in particular by supporting civil society with projects and programs, helping these people to organize so that they can become a force in politics.

Is there something the new German foreign minister, the SPD’s Frank Walter Steinmeier, could, or should, be doing?

He should – diplomatically, as befits a foreign minister – express his opinion. Because it’s not acceptable that we, as a democratic state, should just look on while the prime minister of another country – albeit, admittedly, an elected prime minister – is behaving increasingly like an autocrat.

Social Democrat Lale Akgün served as a member of the German parliament from 2002 to 2009. She was born in Istanbul.

Interview by Arnd Riekmann / cc

Akgun: ‘Erdogan’s days are numbered’ | World | DW.DE | 28.12.2013.