Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has downplayed the Fethullah Gulen Movement's influence on voters and the results of the local elections held March 30 Hurriyet Daily News reported.
"Let's look at the increase in the [main opposition Republican People's Party] CHP's votes," Davutoglu told accompanying journalists yesterday en route to Brussels. "Does this 1.5-2 percent increase come from the parallel structure?" Davutoglu asked, referring to the movement of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Gulen and his supporters.
"There are two possibilities: Either the cemaat does not have that fantastic vote power that they talked about, or the cemaat members did not listen to the orders that came from the above and voted for the [Justice and Development Party] AK Party," the foreign minister said.
Davutoglu said the people had understood that there were efforts to manipulate the election and "supported politics" instead.
"The people protected not only the AK Party, but also politics in general," he said. "The people protected the ballot box and the authority to change the administration, just like it happened in 2007."
According to Davutoglu, "the forces" are playing a three-round game.
"Only the first round is over," he said. "The real target here is to eliminate [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and the AK Party politically. This is the intention of the parallel structure; many other international actors are pursuing similar goals. And the people understand this too; they are aware that the issue is not only about corruption. If it was only about corruption, why were trucks stopped, why were irrelevant conversations leaked, why was the Foreign Minister eavesdropped upon? People are asking this."
The illegal recording of a key high-level security meeting on Syria held at the Foreign Ministry building in Ankara was leaked on YouTube on March 27.
"We checked right after the recording was published on YouTube," the foreign minister said. "As if it was orchestrated, three parties quickly acted: Syria supporters, accounts affiliated with the parallel structure and those close with Iran started writing at the same time."
Speaking on the current ban on Twitter and YouTube, the foreign minister said the government was aware of the criticism and knew access to the websites could not been totally stopped.
"We are also for the total freedom of these tools," Davutoglu said. "But just like every other country, we will protect our rights to sovereignty until the end, including court orders. It was a risk to do such a thing right before the elections, but the government took that risk to protect citizens' rights. The officials of those two companies used to ignore phone calls, but now they come themselves to meet because they know that we are serious."
Davutoglu also said the ruling party had not polarized the country but brought people together.
"The AK Party is receiving votes from all over the country," he said. "Suppose that there was no AK Party, then there would only be ethnic-cultural-sectarian parties, because these are the identities of the opposition parties. Polarization would increase without the AK Party."
Armenians are welcome in Turkey
Davutoglu also said yesterday that Armenians in Syria's Kasab region south of Hatay could flee to Turkey following attacks on the area by al-Qaeda-linked militants that many blame Turkey for supporting.
"The impression created about the clashes in Kasab region is as if al-Qaeda is killing the Armenians there and Turkey is helping al-Qaeda," Davutoglu said. "This is not the case. Since the first day, we have made official statements; I have informed the acting Armenian patriarch and other minority leaders that our doors are wide open for the Armenians living in Kasab. Just like we have been helping hundreds of thousands people fleeing from Syria, we will welcome the Armenians without any discrimination."
Davutoglu said the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was clashing with Shabiha, pro-Assad militia. "They have failed to draw the Armenians into the clashes," he said.