Ministers signed blank papers for Erdoğan to issue as Cabinet decrees, Babacan says

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Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader and former Turkish deputy prime minister Ali Babacan said in an interview aired on TELE1 on Saturday that the Cabinet, which comprises members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), signs blank papers for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to fill in as he pleases to be published as Cabinet decisions.

Babacan resigned from AKP, of which he was a founding member, in 2019, citing concerns and disagreements over its direction. After months of rumors circulating about his plans to establish a new party to challenge the AKP’s rule, he unveiled DEVA in March 2020.

“Blank pieces of paper would be signed by the ministers, and these would be filled in later. They would then be published in the Official Gazette with President Erdoğan’s signature,” Babacan said of the time before his resignation from the AKP. “So it was really up to one signature.”

Babacan said state of emergency decrees issued following a coup attempt in 2016 were also prepared in this manner. He added that nobody would confess to the practice, but Cabinet members of the time would instead confirm it off the record.

Following Babacan’s revelation, Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), urged him to disclose the Cabinet members who went along with the practice.

“Mr. Ali Babacan revealed a big scandal. Can one call a minister signing a blank piece of paper, a minister? Look at this [mess]! Decrees that ruined the lives of millions were prepared with a yes-man attitude,” Gergerlioğlu tweeted, adding that the names of the ministers who signed blank papers should be publicized.

Turkey has been going through a series of political and financial crises. According to critics there have been gross human rights violations and a regression in freedom of speech during the AKP’s 19-year rule.

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