Interview with Abdüllatif Şener (Part I): “Turkish Politics since the 1990s: Hopes, Resentments and Current Challenges”

Interview with Abdüllatif Şener (Part I):
“Turkish Politics since the 1990s: Hopes, Resentments and Current Challenges”

As Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), we held an interview with Associate Professor Abdüllatif Şener, who served as Turkish Minister of Finance at RefahYol coalition government (The coalition government established by the Welfare Party and True Path Party) between 1996 and 1997, and as the Minister of State and Deputy Prime Minister at AK Party government (Justice and Development Party) as well as AK Party deputy between 2002 and 2007. As a publicly and very well-known political actor, Mr. Şener was also one of the founding members of the AK Party. Besides his political experiences, we have talked about a wide range of issues which are high on the agenda including: the democratic record of the AK Party government, its Syrian policy, the Kurdish opening, the Presidency system, and finally the Gezi protests in Istanbul. The interview with Mr. Abdüllatif Şener, which we think carries an immense importance for the audience of the ResearchTurkey, will be published in two parts. In the first part of the interview the main focus will be on the establishment phase of the AK Party; the party’s position vis-à-vis the National View Movement, political election processes, and the government, media, capital groups and civil society relationships in Turkey where we had chance to hear the personal views of Mr. Abdüllatif Şener based on his experiences as an insider.

Synopsis of the Interview:

 “I was one of the leading members in the establishment process of the AK Party. I can frankly say that I was the one who prepared the party programme of the AK Party”

“The AK Party’s party programme was a democratic programme. The Prime Minister has never adopted the party programme”

“The realities of Turkish political culture make such kind of a case impossible because there is no institution that virtually would judge a prime minister or a party leader in Turkey”

“The Prime Minister is not a person that internalized the idea of democracy… He thinks that since he won the elections he can do whatever he wants.  I do not think that he knows what a state of law means as well; none of his acts are compatible with the principle of state of law”

 “I do not consider the Prime Minister as a person who has Western values in mind”

“In comparison to the Erbakan Hodja’s world view and philosophical framework, I can claim that Mr. Erdoğan is much more an ‘Easterner’ than Erbakan Hodja”

 “The National View addresses the common thoughts and expectations of these people. Erbakan Hodja was the one who theorized the idea of National View. I never said I took off my National View’s hat”

“Erdoğan stated that they took off their National View’s hats, now National View meetings against the protests are being arranged in 81 provinces of Turkey. There is an incoherency here”

“I am not against privatization. But I was against when there were lawless actions”

“The privatisation decision that has to be signed by the bureaucrats, and the minister responsible for privatization (Minister of Finance at that time) first came to me, when I was Deputy Prime Minister, and a member of Privatization High Council. Whereas it should be signed by the Prime Minister (PM) last, and by me just before the PM, it came to me for second signature as signed by the PM first. However, even the minister who brought me the decision did not sign the decision. I thought that the meaning of this decision was ‘Either we remove you from this office or we will bring you down a peg or two’. I told that ‘if you could remove me from this office take me then but I will not allow you to cause trouble for me’

 “I was a publicly known name on behalf of the party. It would harm his interests and relations between his base in the party if he left me out of the Council of Ministers”

“The Prime Minister was estranged from me for two months. But he used to authorize me for the prime ministry when he was abroad because he did not want the public to learn that he was offended”

“Prime Minister Erdoğan requested letter of resignations from the ministers before their appointments. Three ministers were removed then: Sami Güçlü, Güldal Akşit and Zeki Ergezen”

“The Prime Minister and Abdullah Gül tried to convince me to be candidate at prime minister’s residence after midnight. You know that in order to be a candidate, you have to pay 2000 TL, and Gül paid this money for me. Nevertheless, I stated that I wouldn’t be a candidate”

“After I left the AK Party I returned to university and I was happy. I did not think to turn back the politics immediately”

“On May 25, 2009, we established the party. However, in a month the companies of Aydın Doğan, who is one of the biggest media bosses of the country, had undergone a tax audit and he was made to pay taxes and penalties equal to as much as his entire wealth. This sanction served as a message to the other media groups.”

“I worked as tax inspector in Turkey so I know it very well. You can deduct the tax and you can apply the penalty whenever you want in Turkey. This is really one of the most serious weaknesses of the state of law in Turkey”

 “We closed the Turkey Party. We did not receive any support from the media. There were 15 thousand people in our first meeting in Samsun. There was no news about the meeting”

“Freedom of media is not a concept that the Prime Minister has in mind. The press will be under his disposal; the NGOs also will take directions from him. The separation of power does not exist in his worldview. Legislation, executive and judiciary should be monopolised by him”

“When the Prime Minister is screaming at the protesters in İstanbul, the administrative chiefs perceive it as a command. That is why they are so harsh in their reactions”

“In the first 6-7 years, I had been the deputy who gave the toughest speeches at the parliament. I also harshly criticized the government from the lectern of the parliament”

“I can harshly criticize a party leader or the policies of a party but I have never individualized it. I have nothing to do with anyone’s personality”

Full Text of the Interview:

Dear Abdüllatif Şener, thank you for accepting the interview offer of Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey). You got into Turkish Grand National Assembly by being elected from the Welfare Party (from now on with its Turkish acronym-Refah Partisi-RP) in 1991. Between 1991 and 1998 you served as an RP deputy.  Following the ban of the Welfare Party in 1998, you became a member of the Virtue Party (from now on with its Turkish acronym-Fazilet Partisi-FP). Moreover, for a term you served as the Minister of Finance. Yet, in a couple of years, in 2001, you became involved in the establishment of phase of a new party- AK Party. After AK Party came into the power in 2002, you took important roles in the government such as the Ministry of State and the Vice Prime Minister. There are publicly well-known four founding members of the AK Party, and you are surely one of them. However, before the general elections in 2007 you declared that you would not run for a seat in the parliament in the 2007 elections and then you resigned from the party. Firstly, especially for our foreign readers, could you please state the reason why you left the FP, and inform us about the establishment process of the AK Party as an insider?

I was elected as deputy from the RP in 1991. I served as the Minister of Finance in the RefahYol coalition government between 1996 and 1997. Before the 1999 elections it was the 28 February process, and RP was shut down. After the ban of the party the deputies, who were not banned from the politics, did not choose other parties but instead we established the FP. We entered into the 1999 elections as FP deputies. But a closure case was opened against the FP as well. Then we thought that this method came to grief, in other words it was not a reasonable way, and did not fit within the developments in Turkey. So we decided to establish another party. Almost 50 deputies in the FP left their group and entered into the establishment process of a new party. I was among them, and also I was one of the leaders of that process. After FP was closed the deputies exempted from those who were banned from politics became the independent deputies. Two parties were formed in such an environment. Some of our friends established the Felicity Party (from now on with its Turkish acronym Saadet Partisi- SP) and we established the AK Party. Actually we did not leave the FP, we continued our ways by two different parties. To put it in another way, after the closure decision of the Constitutional Court we established a new party.

“The AK Party’s party programme was a democratic programme. The Prime Minister has never adopted the party programme”

What kind of role did you play in the establishment process of the party?

As a well-known public figure, I was one of the leading members in the establishment process of the AK Party. I can frankly say that I was the one who prepared the party programme of the AK Party from the very beginning when the party was formed in 2001. I am stating this with caution because the party programme was considered by 4-5 different boards. Each board worked on it for several days. Even, we had 3-4 days long discussions with one of the boards in Uludağ. With another board we had another long discussion in Bilkent Hotel. In Afyon there was another discussion, and I was the one who was chairing the discussions. Thus, the party programme of AK Party was considered by 4-5 board, and the members of these boards were changing quite often. However, as the chair of the board, I was always there. Therefore, from the beginning to the end it contains my intention, information and directions. This programme has not changed, and it is valid even today. It was a democratic programme giving reference to the modern democratic values while excluding marginalization.

Was there a deviation from the party programme afterwards? Was the implementation not in line with your expectations?

Actually from the very beginning the Prime Minister’s way of making politics was not in line with the party programme. Even in my ministry period I thought that ”I would hand over the Prime Minister to the party disciplinary board since he was not acting in accordance with the party programme”. Then some others stated that ”the realities of Turkish political culture make such kind of a case impossible because there is no institution that would judge a prime minister or a party leader in Turkey. In other words, legally it is possible but virtually it is not possible”. Thus they stressed that the “people would interpret this as prankishness, and they would not take it seriously, so you should not apply to the disciplinary court”. Then I decided not to apply because it would be considered as Abdüllatif was joking. However, the party programme was a good one. Yet, the Prime Minister has never adopted the programme, and he is not a person that internalized the idea of democracy. He has a democracy definition in his mind but this democracy definition has nothing to do with the democracy itself. He thinks that since he won the elections he can do whatever he wants.  I do not think that he knows what a state of law means as well; none of his acts are compatible with the principle of state of law. You can easily realize all these things I mentioned in each and every event. 

Şener 2

“The reactions of Mr. Erdoğan against the democratic protests show
what he understands from democracy”

You involved in the politics for many years as a member of the Welfare Party. During those times you had close ties with Necmettin Erbakan both in the party and when he was in the office as the prime minister of the RefahYol government. During the 2002 elections the SP, which was supported by Necmettin Erbakan, couldn’t succeed while the AK Party, whose leader Mr. Erdoğan, claimed that he took off this National View’s hat gained a landslide victory. In several analyses, the most important mistake of Erbakan Hodja and the National View in general was shown as their strong reference to the East. However, it is argued that the electoral base of SP was composed of Anatolian capitalists whose trade relations were mostly with Europe. Therefore, their interests would be supported more properly by a government which has global intentions rather than national opinion. It is claimed that these capitalists supported the AK Party, not the SP in the 2002 elections because of this reason. Do you agree with this?  Do you think AK Party is supported for this reason?

When the discourses of Erbakan Hodja were considered, it can be said that he was supporting the Islamic unity and the idea of developing the relations with the Islamic countries. He established D8[1] against G8 when he was the Prime Minister and I was the Minister of Finance. He stated that “if the West has G8 the Islamic countries would have D8″. He established a unity composing of the Islamic countries with the highest population. Addressing the foreigners and Westerns, he was even stating in several meetings that “you would be a part as G8 and we would be a part as D8, and we would negotiate by equal standards”. Some people were judging that Hodja would scare the Western world in this way. Yes, it is right to claim that he has a special interest to East and to the Islamic countries, but he was a Westerner in terms of modern democratic values, understanding the democracy and modern statesmanship, and his approach towards differences. He had a broad vision and worldview. In comparison to the Hodja’s world view and philosophical framework I can claim that Mr. Erdoğan is much more an ‘Easterner’ than Erbakan Hodja. I stated at the beginning as well. It is worth asking Mr. Erdoğan that what he understands from democracy, state of law, human rights and secularism. What do you understand and feel when the modern democratic values are pronounced? What do they mean for you? Actually there is no need to ask. The discourses of Mr. Erdoğan and his reactions against several democratic protests show what he understands from democracy. Freedom of media is not a concept that he has in mind. Civil society and unique development are also the concepts that he does not have in his mind. The press will be under his disposal; the NGOs also will take directions from him. The separation of power does not exist in his worldview. Legislation, executive and judiciary should be monopolised by him. Prime Minister Erdoğan is a person who has such kind of a worldview. I do not consider the Prime Minister as a person who has Western values in mind.

“Erdoğan stated that he took off the National View’s hat but now he is arranging National View meetings against the protests in 81 provinces of Turkey”

In 2002 did you also take off your National View’s hat?

I have never talked about taking off the National View’s hat. The statement of National View is a correct statement. Each politician should have the idea of National View and act in a way that supports the national thought. The citizens of this country are the people that elected us as deputies. National View addresses the common thoughts and expectations of these people. Therefore, in my opinion, each elected official should embrace the collective view of the citizens of this country. Erbakan Hodja was the one who theorized the idea of National View. The friends who wanted to say their path was different claimed that they took off their National View’s hats. The one who used this statement was the Prime Minister Erdoğan himself but nowadays he brought the idea of National View into the prominence. Erdoğan is now arranging National View meetings against the protests in 81 provinces of Turkey. There is an incoherency here. I never made this statement; I mean I never said I took off my National View’s hat.

You stated that you had not signed any decision that you did not believe during them time when you were the minister. Especially for some critical privatization decisions you were the one who opposed to such decisions. Even after such kind of news the Privatization Board was taken from you and was placed under the Ministry of Finance. Is it true that you never signed the privatization decisions when you were the minister? Are you completely against privatization or were you opposing to privatization for some other reasons?

I am not against privatization. When the directorate of Privatization Administration was given to my disposal the Prime Minister was Abdullah Gül. He worked on which departments would be under the discretion of the deputy prime ministry and other ministries. He stated that he would give me those, pointing to a few on the list, on the day when he would announce the list. I examined the list and I did not like it. I told him to take this from me and give this to me. For example the State Planning Organization (SPO) was not on the list. When we talked to him I took the SPO. Since there were several organizations under my authority and I asked him to take some others from me. The Privatization Administration was also given to me but I did not refuse it but accepted. I was again in the same position when Erdoğan became the Prime Minister. If I was against privatization I would not accept such a duty because, at that time, I had the power to take and give up whichever duty that was assigned to me. Afterwards we had disputes with the Prime Minister. As part of these disputes, I had to resign from the Privatization Administration directorate. We determined the times of privatizations and prepared the privatization programs of the institutions. We also determined which institutions enter into tender on which date. However, I had to resign before any of these institutions entered into tender. For this reason it is impossible to find my signature under any privatization decision. After leaving Privatization Administration, the Prime Minister assigned me membership of the Higher Board of Privatization. There was a decision about delaying the payments of instalments of some privatized institutions, and this decision required my signature as well. Four institutions purchased something from the state before we came into the power. There were different instalment options for these institutions; for example an institution was obliged to pay its debt in eight years. The decision was about deleting their interests and extending the instalment period to twelve years. Before the tender, if you declare that the instalment period was twelve years there would be some new participants for the tender. There is direct lawlessness in this action, in my opinion. The minister who was responsible for the privatization sent me the decision for a signature, but when I examined the decision I realized that none of ministers had signed the decision except for the Prime Minister. Even Mr. Unakıtan (Kemal Unakıtan, Former Minister of Finance), who took the office after I left the office of the Privatization Administration, did not sign the decision. Then the decision came to me for second signature. Indeed, the Prime Minister has to sign after the minister who is responsible for privatization and I signed the decision. However, even the minister who brought me the decision did not sign the decision. I thought that the meaning of this decision was ‘Either we remove you from this office or we will bring you down as a peg or two’. I told that ‘if you could remove me from this office take me then but I will not allow you to cause trouble for me’. This was the first month of Erdoğan in the office as the Prime Minister.

“The Prime Minister was estranged from me for two months. But he used to authorize me for the prime ministry when he was abroad because he did not want the public to learn that he was offended”

According to Turkish Public Administration Law, it is formally not lawful bring you, as a member of Higher Board of Privatization, a decision for signature before the ministers and related bureaucrats sign the decision, is it?

Of course it was formally not lawful especially for this reason. Yet, there were many other reasons but this was one of the reasons. After I left the office of the Privatization Administration, you assign me duty to the Higher Board of this institution and you first bring me such kind of a decision to be signed. You bring me the issue that I discussed when I was at the Privatization Administration. I did not sign and the Prime Minister was estranged from me for two months. He used to authorize me for the prime ministry when he was abroad because he did not want the public to learn that he was offended. Because it was a part of protocol, when he was going abroad we saw him off or welcome him back when he returned or when press conferences were arranged, etc. But we never talked to each other during these two months. At the press conferences, he did not talk to me even if I was sitting next to him but he always authorized me for the prime ministry when he was abroad. After all, one day at about twelve o’clock at night, I went to his office and told him that ‘we have not spoken for two months, remove me from Higher Board of Privatization as well and feel relieved’. He told me, ‘but you hold firm’ that is exactly his term. I told him that ‘I always hold firm’. This means nothing would be heard by others. He was so bored with me that even as the hands of the clock were approaching midnight he published the decision which removed me from the Higher Board of Privatization in the Official Gazette that very day. So I was removed from my duty the day after my talk with him. Thus, I was neither a part of the Higher Board of Privatization nor I continued to my duty at the Privatization Administration even though I was the director of it at first. This means I do not have a signature under the privatization decisions taken by the AK Pary government. However, I signed some privatization decisions. Between 1996 and 1997 when I was the Minister of Finance, I was again a member of the Higher Board of Privatization, and I signed some privatization decisions.

“Prime Minister Erdoğan requested letter of resignations from the ministers before their appointments. Hence three ministers were removed then”

There was news claiming that Prime Minister Erdoğan requested letter of resignations from the ministers before their appointments. Is this true?

Yes, it is true. He became the deputy from Siirt after the removal of his political ban. When the leader of party became the Prime Minister, Gül had to resign from the prime minister’s office. When he (Erdoğan) became the prime minister, the government changed in line with the constitutional rules. Gül’s government was the 58th and Erdoğan became the Prime Minister of the 59th government. Thus, he was going to be the one as the Prime Minister who would propose the list of the ministers to President. In other words, Erdoğan gave the list of ministers to Sezer (Ahmet Necdet Sezer, former President of Turkey) for approval. He (Erdoğan) met lots of people without considering whether they would be ministers or not. However, the ones that would be ministers, he held private meetings and requested letters of resignation from them.

You have been involved in politics since 1991. Is this the tradition? Did Mr. Gül and Mr. Erbakan request such kind of a letters as well?

No, neither Abdullah Gül nor Erbakan Hodja requested such a thing. However, Erdoğan requested letter of resignation when he became the Prime Minister, and I signed and gave it to him.  Taking the petition and executing it are different things. You would not execute the petition if your position were risky. Hence three ministers were removed then.

Which ministers were removed by the letter of resignation that they gave before they came to office?

The ministers that were removed by the petitions that they gave before they came to office were: Sami Güçlü, Güldal Akşit and Zeki Ergezen. The Prime Minister removed them from their office by these petitions without their knowledge; I state this because these friends told me that they did not have any knowledge about their removal. However, the lists were given to them as if they had knowledge. Mr. Erdoğan has taken resignation petitions not only from the ministers but also from some of high-ranking bureaucrats when they were appointed. We had disputes on several issues when we worked together for five years. There were some issues about privatizations and general directorates which I was against him. For example, the conditions of Galataport tender were not accurate. The zoning regulations were against the law. I told him that the courts would also give the same decision and I did not sign even he insisted. However, despite all these conflicts and opposite ideas, he did not execute my resignation petition.

“The Prime Minister and Abdullah Gül tried to convince me to be candidate at Prime Minister’s residence after midnight. Nevertheless, I stated that I wouldn’t be a candidate” 

Why do you think Mr. Erdoğan did not put your resignation petition into consideration despite all these conflicts?

I was a publicly known name on behalf of the party. It would harm his interests and relations between his base in the party if he provoked a quarrel with me and left me out of the Council of Ministers at that time. Of course a prime minister cannot know the risks when he worked with a deputy prime minister for a while. He cannot know what I know about him. The things that I know about him may put him in a risky situation. He cannot take those risks in case of a sharp breakup. He had to consider these and he was doing so. Even, when he learned that I would not be a candidate in 2007, he and Abdullah Gül tried to convince me to be candidate at prime minister’s residence after midnight. You know that in order to be a candidate, you have to pay 2000 TL, and Gül paid this money for me. Nevertheless, I stated that I wouldn’t be a candidate, and we now different paths and I did not become a candidate.

After you resigned from the AK Party you declared that you would return to academics but after a while you formed a new party-Turkey Party (Türkiye Partisi). Why did you form a new party?

After I left the AK Party, I returned to university and I was happy. I was earning three times more than I earned when I was the minister and I did not think about going back into politics immediately. However, there was a strong demand from the base for a new party. Even, I could not stay at the university because there were lots committees visiting my office at the university and I was ashamed of the university administration, the other academicians and of students. They were always coming to visit me, they never left me alone and there were always thousands of people in the university corridors. I felt that I could not continue under those conditions and I resigned. We rented an office and began to observe the political environment. We observed the environment, and we evaluated the political demands, individuals that may take part in politics and examined the political traffic. Actually we waited for the 2009 elections. We calculated that if AK Party collects less than 40% votes this would demonstrate the decline of AK Party.  There would be a suitable environment for a new political movement. We considered the 2009 local elections as the basis. During the 2009 elections the incumbent government AK Party got 38% of the votes so we claimed that a new party can be formed in Turkey.

Şener 3Is the Turkey Party still continuing or is it completely closed? Why was it not able to be successful?

We closed down the Turkey Party. There are lots of needs for a political party in order to survive, make its voice heard, and enhance its power of propaganda. It is very hard for a political party, especially a newly established one, to express itself without freedom of press and non-governmental organizations. When we formed the party the media was not bridled as it is today. However, the Prime minister started to establish capital groups for media, and step by step he obtained ownership of the media. However, the media was still autonomous at that time, they were making their own broadcasts and it was semi-independent. This made us think that the media’s situation would not affect us. Thus, I stated, “Let’s form the party”. On May 25, 2009, we established the party. However, in a month the companies of Aydın Doğan, who is one of the biggest media bosses of the country, had undergone a tax audit and he was made to pay taxes and penalties equal to as much as his entire wealth. As soon as our party was formed, there was a financial sanction placed on a media group which liquidated it and this sanction served as a model to the other media groups. Afterwards, the prime minister made speeches which were openly targeting some capital groups, some media members and some non-governmental organizations. These are the things that no politician should do but he still continues to use such a tone and now he is angry with the protestors in İstanbul. Actually, it is a directive given to the administrative chiefs. He orders them to end the protests. The harsh statements he made in different platforms, which address big capital groups and media members, should be seen in real terms as directives to the Ministry of Finance, Auditors and the Judiciary. The entire system perceives it in this way. So after all the media closed itself to us. We could not find the necessary financing in that environment as well. Although we arranged several donation campaigns, people were afraid of facing troubles because of their donations. Even some people who donated us complained about the fact that they had some troubles with the state.As one mentioned “They figured out I made donation to you, they are examining my bank accounts, and they took the apartment of the foundation that I have been lease holder for years”. This dissuades financial supports of people as well. We could not express ourselves, since we did not receive any support from the media. We arranged our first meeting in Samsun and there were 15 thousand people there. There was no news about that meeting and no TV channels broadcasted it, even though we requested them to do so.  Our other meetings also were not broadcasted accurately and we could not express ourselves. Under these conditions you cannot make your voice heard. Even we heard from some saying, ‘why did Abdüllatif Şener quit politics, if he would establish a party?’ You cannot maintain when the democratic weakness is considered. We thought that there is no need for the party to maintain itself without a mission, thus we closed it down.

“I worked as tax inspector in Turkey so I know it very well. You can deduct the tax and you can apply the penalty whenever you want in Turkey. This is really one of the most serious weaknesses of the state of law in Turkey”

Do the tax penalties you mentioned and the ability of the government to repress / channel the capital as it wants and the power of it to destroy the capital show the weakness of the state of law? Authoritarianism and suspension of democracy do not seem hard in Turkey, do they?

It is not easy to explain it to the Western world. I worked as tax inspector in Turkey so I know it very well. You can deduct the tax and you can apply the penalty whenever you want in Turkey. There is a famous saying on the Revenue Board; If a public accountant cannot notice tax evasion by a tax payer it is not because of the tax payer’s honesty it is due to the public auditor’s lack of skill. This is always the case in Turkey. You create something; someone interprets it in a different way. This is written on a report and then may cause you trouble. This is really one of the most serious weaknesses of the state of law in Turkey. Nobody can claim that s/he is an honest tax payer and s/he is paying the taxes properly with proper income and nobody can claim that s/he is transparent and legal so that the state cannot bring his /her to account in Turkey. Why? Because power groups can get people they want into trouble. The words spoken freely for years are archived, in the suitable conjuncture people can be arrested because of these words in Turkey. There are these kinds of systemic weaknesses. When the Prime Minister is screaming at the protesters in İstanbul, the administrative chiefs perceive it as a command. That is why they are so harsh in their reactions.

In Turkey, there are fractions in the political parties. Even a person planning to form a different political party, stays within the existing party and s/he organizes there, then s/he leaves. Why did not you choose a way to stay within the AK Party and to form a new party after distracting some deputies? As a political scientist, I can claim that this is how politics are done in Turkey. Do you think in a different way?

While I left the AK Party, I did not think I would deal with the politics again. I was planning to go on within the university. However, people were talking about politics with every step I took. Nobody was leaving me alone with my colleagues or students; politics were always on the agenda. Some were coming to me as a committee to suggest being a party leader. Some were organizing all provincial chairmen and claiming that they would give the party to me without my permission and ask me to become a candidate for the leadership of the party. I decided that after dealing with such a kind of process that is why the preconditions you mentioned couldn’t be developed.

“I can harshly criticize the party leader or the policies of the party but I have never individualized it by attacking to the Prime Minister or the ministers personally”

Another interesting observation about you is that people from different political parties have strong sympathy for you. Unfortunately, outrageous polarization was created in Turkey, people from different fractions, especially from the AK Party and the people supporting other parties are blaming each other harshly, and the grievance is gradually increasing. However, the sympathy and interest for you could be observed even though you were one of the most powerful figures within the AK Party and a minister. You were regarded as a candidate for the presidency by members of different parties. Although you think you couldn’t explain yourself as a new party, people have kindness and trust you greatly. How do you interpret this?

Since the very first day in my political life, as a party or as an individual, I have never said a word which may disturb people even including the fractions whose votes I can never get. From the first days of my political life as a deputy, people would have found me quite harsh. In the first 6-7 years, I had been the deputy who gave the toughest speeches at the parliament. My criticisms were so hard. I also harshly criticized the government from the lectern of the parliament. However, I was careful about two things. First, I have never said a word to hurt personality rights. For instance, if criticize the government I would say harsh words such as ‘you ruined and destroyed the rights of the workers, retired people, and the farmers.   I have never individualized it by attacking to the Prime Minister or the ministers personally. Secondly, I always put myself in the shoes of the electorate. I always try to empathize with the electorate by thinking whether the potential words I would say as deputy could disturb me or not if I were one of the electorate, for example from an occupational group or an ethnic group. I tried not to make statements that could have disturbed or harmed the electorate because of their position. From the day I entered politics to the day I left politics, this has been my main language. No electorate can claim that I hurt them with my words. This is the common thing among Turkish politicians. The member of X party can target the electorate of other party in an inconvenient manner. By provoking their electorate, they try to get sympathy. There have been many times when I may have disturbed different fractions just because of my harsh criticisms to the parties and party politics they support. However I do not attack to the individuals. People can get resentful because I criticized the party politics, but this is how politics is done. I know some people who agreed with me after realizing the mistakes they made, although, they still got mad at me in the first place.

To be continued… The second part of the interview will be published soon.

© 2013 Research Turkey. All rights reserved. This publication cannot be printed, reproduced, or copied without referencing the original source.

Please cite this publication as follows:

Research Turkey (August, 2013), “Interview with Abdüllatif Şener (Part I):  “Turkish Politics since the 1990s: Hopes, Resentments and Current Challenges””, Vol. II, Issue 6, pp.36-46, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London, Research Turkey. (http://researchturkey.org/?p=3924)


[1] D-8, Developing Eight is a group of countries with large Muslim populations and developing markets that have formed an economic development alliance. Founded by Professor Necmettin Erbakan, former Turkish Prime Minister, D8 consists of Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey. The members of D8 are also members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.


Comments

7 thoughts on “Interview with Abdüllatif Şener (Part I): “Turkish Politics since the 1990s: Hopes, Resentments and Current Challenges”

  1. Hıfzı Deveci

    Bir yüksek denetçi olarak kanunsuzlukların, usulsüzlüklerin peşinde yıllarca dolaştım, devletin binlerce dosyasını karıştırdım ve doğal olarak zaman zaman da Sayın Abdüllatif Şener’in izine rastladım. Profesyonel bilgilerimle şunu söyleyebilirim ki Sayın Şener’in imzasını hiçbir yanlış işin altında görmedim. Tersine, karşı çıktığı ne varsa karşı çıkılması gerekiyordu. Sayın Şener, Türk siyasi tarihinde namus timsali olarak mümtaz bir yere sahiptir; ama bence en az bunun kadar önemli bir özelliği, devletin malına ve parasına karşı gösterdiği özendir diyebilirim. “Tüyü bitmemiş yetim hakkı” deyimini ondan daha iyi içselleştirmiş birini bulmak zordur diye düşünüyorum. Böyle birinin siyaset içinde kendine yer bulamamış olması, siyaset kurumuna karşı duyduğumuz güvensizliği arttırmaktadır.

    Reply
  2. AYSUN

    rabbim hep doğrunun ve dürst insanın yanındadır .onun katında sorumluluk bilinci taşıyan insanlardır üstün olanlar. Rabbim yar ve yardımcın olsun sana ve senin gibilere hz. ÖMERİN siyasetinden yapmayı nasip eylesim AMİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİN

    Reply
  3. Gökmen Çöloğlu

    Sayın Şener’in açıklamaları bugün Türkiye’nin içine düştüğü durumun sebeplerinin yorumunu yapmaktadır. Maalesef Türkiye’de milli birlik çatırdamaktadır. Türkiye bölünme sürecine doğru hızla yaklaşmaktadır. Tarihte dünyanın pek az ülkesinde hükümetin başına geçen kişinin ülkenin parçalanmasını sağladığı görülür. Fakat idarenin başı olan kişi ülke parçalandıktan sonra bir başka ülkede başbakanlık işi bulamayacağını idrak etmez. Aslında idarenin başında olanlar en yüksek vatansever olmak mecburiyetindedirler. Maalesef bugünkü idare için bunu pek iddia edemeyiz.
    Evet, Sayın Abdüllatif Şener dürüst bir insandır ve etrafında dürüstlüğe aykırı işlerin de dönmesini önler. Türkiye’de bu gibi kişilerin mutlaka siyaset içinde bulunmasında zaruret vardır. Çünkü siyaset ortamının geri püskürtülemez gereğidir bu.

    Reply
  4. İbrahim YILMAZ

    Sivaslı siyasetçilerin kaderi bu galiba diye düşünüyorum. Başbakanı seviyorum hatalarını görmezden gelmeye çalışıyorum. Ama Abdüllatif beyi daha çok seviyorum ve siyasi parti teşkilatını kurarken yanlış yapmasaydı bir sürü avuk subuk adamlarla yola çıkmasaydı bugün yüzde 15 lik bir oyu olan bir siyasi hareket olurdu TP. Ama kişisel hayatlarında özen gösterememiş lakayt adamlarla yola çıkmak zorunda kaldı ve Necmettin Erbakan varken siyaser yapmaya çalıştı. Belki Maliyeci kibri vardı farkında olmadan. Kesinlikle dört dörtlük bir adam. Önünde iki seçeneği var ya Saadet Partisinin başına geçecek yada TR genelinde adam gibi 81 kişi bulup yeniden örgütlenecek bir hareketin içine girecek.
    Ben Maliye Bakanı olduğunda 1996 da kendisini makamından arayıp tebrik etmiştim. Güzel işler yapabilecek kalitede bir siyasetçi. Eğer Sayın Cumhurbaşkanı görev süresi biter yeniden siyasete dönecek olursa Abdüllatif beyle birlikte hareket edebilir. Ama çok zor.. Abdüllah Gül gibi temiz bir siyasetçi köşke kondu ve sesi kısıldı.. Allah bu ülkenin yardımcısı olsunç
    Selamlar

    Reply
  5. Gökmen Çöloğlu

    İnsanlar makam sahibi oldukları zaman kıymetleri ortaya çıkar. O bakımdan getirildiği son makamdan sonra sesi çıkmayan insanların önceden de dürüst olduklarını iddia edemeyiz pek.
    Siyaset yapmak bölgesel bir beceri değildir elbet. Ama ortamı dolduran ve adına ‘Siyasetçi’ denen kişilerin kalitesi diğer kaliteli kişilerin ortamdan uzaklaşmasına sebep oluyor. Ekonominin meşhur ikilemidir: “Kötü mal iyi malı piyasadan kovar.” Çok kişiye bunun aksi doğru gelir amma doğrusu yukarıdaki sözde yazılan gibidir. Bu bakımdan kötülerin yerine iyileri geçirmek için mutlaka birlik olup ve kötülerden usandığını açıkça belli edip iyileri idareye seçmektir.
    Genel kalitenin ne olduğu hakkında bir örnek vereyim: Sayın İlker Başbuğ müebbed hapse mahkum olmuş. Başbakan Yardımcısı Sayın Çelik “Umarım bundan ders almıştır.” diye beyanat veriyor. Hani Temel’i idama mahkum etmişler, cellat son arzusunu sormuş o da “Ha bu ceza bana bir ders olsun.” demiş. Onun gibi birşey.Sayın Başbakan Yardımcısının böyle bir beyanat vermesi aslında bugünkü kalitenin ne olduğunu göstermesi bakımından dikkat çekicidir. Cezası temyizde de onanırsa adam zaten kalan hayatı kadar hapiste yatacak. Var mı bunun dünyada kalan dersi?
    Selam ve Saygılarımla

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...