Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, emboldened by local election wins, on Friday criticized Twitter, the nation’s top court, central bank and hinted he could run for the presidency.
Asked whether he would seek to become head of state in August, the first time voters will directly elect the president, Erdogan said he and Turkish President Abdullah Gul “will reach a decision after negotiating this between us.”
After Erdogan’s 11 years in power, months of crisis and bitterly contested mayoral elections on Sunday last week, Turkey has been left even more polarized between a secular and mostly urban middle-class and Erdogan’s loyal base in the conservative Muslim working class.
Erdogan, head of a hugely popular Islamic-rooted party, spoke bluntly on Friday on a flashpoint issue in the crisis: an official block on Twitter that was overturned this week as breaching free speech by the highest court.
“I don’t respect this ruling,” a defiant Erdogan said, a day after Twitter went live again in Turkey. “All our national, moral values have been put aside,” he said about the social media service, which has hosted a torrent of recordings implicating Erdogan’s inner circle in sleaze and corruption. “Insults to a country’s prime minister and ministers are all around.”
Echoing Erdogan, Turkish Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdag said: “Unfortunately, the Constitutional Court exceeded its limits.”
However, Washington hailed the court’s decision as supporting freedom of expression.
“We also note that the Turkish government implemented the ruling yesterday to unblock Twitter,” US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said. “Obviously, we continue to urge the government to open all social media space in Turkey.”
The US also praised a ruling by a lower court in Ankara on Friday against Turkey’s ban on YouTube.