Turkish government still standing despite resignations
April 27, 1997
Web posted at: 9:36 a.m. EDT (1336 GMT)
ANKARA, Turkey (CNN) -- Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin
Erbakan's Islamist-led coalition government was still
standing Sunday after government leaders agreed for the
second time in two months to implement a wide-ranging reform
package pushed by the country's secularist military leaders.
But two of Erbakan's cabinet ministers -- members of former
prime minister and now foreign minister Tansu Ciller's
pro-Western faction -- resigned before the prime minister's
Saturday meeting with the generals.
Industry Minister Yalim Erez and Health Minister Yildirm
Aktuna were at odds with Erbakan's reluctance to put the
army's measures -- which would curb the influence of Islam in
everyday life -- into effect.
"I told Mrs. Ciller that this government wouldn't serve any
good to the country and to democracy," Erez said in
announcing his resignation.
Ciller, Erbakan's uneasy government partner for the past 10
months, was angry with Erez and Aktuna's resignation.
"It is not up to them to decide over the future of the
government," she said.
Ciller joined the prime minister for the meeting Saturday
with President Suleyman Demirel and the military-dominated
National Security Council, and reportedly told Erbakan to
either uphold secularism or disband the coalition.
Among the measures Erbakan agreed to: a ban on Islamist
propaganda on television, restrictions on religious dress
among students, and closing Islamist-oriented secondary
schools, according to a statement released by the Council.
The Council first pressed the measures on Erbakan's
government in February. Saturday's meeting was called when
military leaders apparently decided he had not moved fast
enough to implement the earlier agreement.
Erbakan's drive to bring Islam into Turkish public life has
unsettled many. Erez said Saturday that Erbakan's promotion
of relations with Iran and other Middle Eastern countries
hurts Turkey's chances of full membership in the European
Union "because of the impression (he) is giving."
Some observers in Ankara said Erbakan saved his government
Saturday, but others said it was just a matter of time before
the coalition collapses.
"This government is finished in practice, although it might
take some time to die," political analyst Hasan Cemal told
Some of Erbakan's Welfare Party supporters are among those
who agree. Some have urged him to disband the coalition and
appeal to the voters, but members of parliament are reluctant
to go that route.
Reuters contributed to this report.
© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.