Davutoğlu says Turkey's ‘revolution in region' disturbed some

DavutoÄŸlu says Turkey
# 26 December 2013 19:18 (UTC +04:00)
“If some are making calculations on us, if we have disturbed some, rest assured that this is because of the revolution we carried out in this region,” DavutoÄŸlu told a meeting of the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TÄ°M) in Ä°stanbul late on Wednesday. He did not elaborate further but added, “Turkey's rising trend will continue irrespective of who says what.”

DavutoÄŸlu's remarks appear to echo Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan's claims that a corruption probe that led to the resignation of three ministers this week was a foreign conspiracy by foes of Turkey. Without openly naming him, ErdoÄŸan suggested last weekend that US Ambassador in Ankara Francis Ricciardone could be expelled amid accusations in pro-government media that he was behind the corruption probe. The US Embassy and the State Department have dismissed the allegations. In separate statements, both the embassy and State Department officials in Washington have warned that Turkish-US ties might be harmed if accusations targeting the US ambassador and other officials continue.

On Saturday, four pro-government dailies ran the same story, claiming that Ricciardone had told a group of European ambassadors that Turkey did not heed the US's instructions on trade ties with sanctions-hit Iran. Ricciardone reportedly concluded, “You are now watching the collapse of an empire,” referring to the troubles facing the Turkish government because of the ongoing investigation into an alleged corruption scheme in connection with gold trade with Iran. The State Department called the claims “baseless” and “deeply disturbing.”

Again on Wednesday, pro-government newspapers reported that Ashwin Bijanki, a diplomat in Ankara, had visited the heads of several nongovernmental organizations and invited them to lobby against the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government. The US Embassy responded by saying in a statement that “no one should jeopardize US-Turkey relations with such ill-intended slanders.”

Three government ministers quit, one calling on Prime Minister ErdoÄŸan to also quit, early on Wednesday after a wave of arrests as part of the corruption investigation. The sons of two ministers who resigned are also among the detained. A fourth minister also reportedly involved in the investigation, EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış, was replaced by Mevlüt ÇavuÅŸoÄŸlu as part of a government reshuffle on Wednesday night that saw 10 ministers being replaced.

DavutoÄŸlu, who spoke after the resignation of the three ministers involved in the probe, said “minor developments that one may see in any country might happen,” without openly referring to the scandal. “What is important is that … we keep our unity … strengthen our democratic system,” he said.

The foreign minister also dismissed opposition criticism against a recent readmission and visa liberalization talks deal with the EU, saying claims that Turkey will be forced to revoke its visa-free travel deals with non-EU countries due to the deal did not reflect the truth.

Turkey and the EU signed an agreement allowing the EU to send illegal migrants crossing into Europe from Turkey and launching talks on visa liberalization for Turks who want to travel to EU countries.

DavutoÄŸlu said the deal came after meticulous bargaining with the EU for the past four years, praising its terms. “When conditions are met … you will be able to travel to every corner of the EU without a visa,” DavutoÄŸlu told the exporters.