There is nothing wrong with having a president involved in politics and those in favor of a "president above politics" simply want Turkey to be ruled by coup d'états, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
Erdogan, the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) presidential candidate, said opposition parties were actually seeking a president who will "represent the state, like they have always done in the past," rather than a president representing "the people."
"Saying, 'let the president be above politics' actually means, 'Let the president be above the people and above the people's choices, demands and will," he said, delivering a speech at a fast-breaking dinner hosted by the Anatolian Tiger Businessmen's Association (ASKON) at Istanbul's Halich Congress Center.
"What does having a president above politics or outside of politics mean? Until today, this has always been said by putschists. Today, it is only those who long for a coup who say this. My brothers and sisters, one should ask them, 'Is politics something to be embarrassed about?'" Erdogan added.
His remarks were apparently aimed at the nomination of Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a senior diplomat and academic, as the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) joint candidate to run in Turkey's first-ever direct presidential elections in August.
"If politics is something to be embarrassed about, why are you involved in it? If it is not something to be embarrassed about, then why aren't you at rallies? Is the people making a choice and determining the country's future a situation to be embarrassed about?" Erdogan also said.
He recalled how incumbent President Abdullah Gul was elected in August 2007 after months of tension and controversy. His election became possible only after the ruling AKP narrowly escaped an intervention by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in 2007, after the military issued a warning against the candidacy of then-Foreign Minister Gul, mainly because his spouse wore a headscarf, which was seen as an alarming symbol of "fundamentalism."
"These non-democratic elements wanted to elect a president like themselves. They blocked the election of a president who is not similar to them. They created chaos and a crisis in the country. You see, the opposition is trying to do the same at this moment. By having a quest outside of politics, they are harming both politics and themselves and they also display their view of the state, the nation and the national will," Erdogan added.