June 1, 2015

Greens leader says Bank Asya situation shows Erdoğan has no respect for democracy

The co-chairwoman of the Greens Group in the European Parliament Rebecca Harms, in a statement on Sunday, said the takeover of Bank Asya has shown that both the Turkish government and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have lost their respect for democracy.

“The announced ‘silencing' of opposition media in Turkey is now already taking place. Not only by threatening and beating up journalists. But also by taking over Bank Asya, [the] government and president of Turkey show that they have lost respect for democratic rules. Negative trend in polls for the AKP [the Justice and Development Party or AK Party] seems to be the reason for a more aggressive strategy against opposition media. All this is not compatible with fundamental rules for democratic electoral process,” Harms maintained.

The Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) announced late last Friday that it had handed over control of Bank Asya to the state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF), in what most consider a politically motivated move, just days before the country's general election slated for June 7.

Turkey's largest Islamic lender was already being administered by an interim board assigned by the TMSF on Feb. 3.

Founded by sympathizers of the faith-based Hizmet (service) movement, also known as the Gülen movement -- inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen -- in 1996, Bank Asya, has long been in the news as a target of an intimidation campaign led by high-ranking state officials as well as pro-government media outlets and businessmen. Erdoğan accuses supporters of the Hizmet movement of organizing “a coup attempt,” referencing investigations into corruption and bribery in 2013 that implicated several Cabinet ministers, Erdoğan's sons and pro-government businessmen.

The seizure, the latest in a prolonged smear campaign against the bank, has drawn ire both domestically and internationally.

Published on Today's Zaman, 1 June 2015, Monday