PM Erdoğan: I will quit politics if US pressure confirmed

Erdoğan firmly rejected suggestions of US interference in the withdrawal, adding, 'We would never misappropriate what has been given to us by our people.'

PM Erdoğan: I will quit politics if US pressure confirmed

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made a statement yesterday similar to that of Turkey's top military commander, who had lashed out at charges suggesting that Turkey ended its ground offensive against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq under pressure from the US, with the prime minister threatening to step down from his post if the allegations are proven true.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Uşak Atatürk Sports Hall yesterday, Erdoğan also commented on accusations by opposition parties regarding the timing of the Turkish troops' withdrawal. Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt recently stated that he would quit if US pressure is proven, and Prime Minister Erdoğan has now also said that he will step down from his political post if critics can prove their accusations.

Erdoğan noted: "Gen. Büyükanıt has said something very significant, and now I also repeat the same [for my own post]. Nobody can accuse us of getting orders from the US or other authorities. If such accusations are proven, I will quit politics. I am making a significant claim."

Highlighting the polemic between the General Staff and the opposition parties, Erdoğan criticized the latter. "I have previously said that no one should engage in politics over our martyrs and try to pull the army into politics. If they have anything to say about the operations, they should tell the government or me. But the opposition parties have not calmed down. The matter then evolved into another type of discussion. They tried to take advantage of this situation politically during a process when we needed solidarity and unity the most. I do not want any votes that might be the result of this event," Erdoğan also said.

The prime minister continued: "Parliament issued its authorization for the operation to the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK]. There have been many air offensives during this process, followed by the ground offensive. Some people have raised their voices, saying the army should have stayed there [in northern Iraq] longer, and others assert that they should have been better informed."

Erdoğan firmly rejected suggestions of US interference in the withdrawal, adding, "We would never misappropriate what has been given to us by our people."

Underlining that the government did not take its steps upon orders from anywhere, Erdoğan also noted that the matter actually has many different aspects. "This matter has diplomatic, economic and political dimensions. The military aspect of the operation was managed by the TSK."

Erdoğan, addressing the opposition parties, also emphasized that the military should not be used for political ends, saying: "Nobody will gain anything by using the military for political ends. If you have anything to ask or say, tell us. But be respectful of our answers because it is we who are involved in this matter. You do not believe our explanations nor those of the General Staff. Who, then, do you believe?"

Addressing those making the accusations, Erdoğan said: "The law states that slanderers must prove their accusations. I am asking how they will live with themselves without being able to prove these claims of theirs."

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Last Mod: 09 Mart 2008, 10:39
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