ANKARA - Turkeys Prime Minister has defended the links between his senior advisor, Cuneyd Zapsu, and Yasin El Kadi, listed as a financier of the terrorist group Al Qaeda in the United Nations list of supporters of terrorism.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with television station NTV late Tuesday evening Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, dismissed allegations that either his aide or Yasin El Kadi were linked to terrorism.
I know Yasin, I believe in him as I do in myself. He is acharitable person who loves Turkey, Erdogan said.
Erdogan said that El Kadi had investments in Turkey, adding that it was impossible that El Kadi would be linked with terrorism. The Turkish PM said that El Kadi was nothing other than a charitable person.
The partnership between El-Kadi and Zapsu had ended years back but it was being made to appear as if it was continuing, he said.
In reference to another controversial issue, the visit to Ankara by senior officials of the Palestinian group Hamas earlier this year, Erdogan said that despite the criticism levelled at the government the visit had been very fruitful. He added that they could be holding more meetings with Hamas in the future.
The Prime Minister also praised the role Turkey was playing in Israel and Palestine as well as between the US and Syria.
Turning to domestic issues, Erdogan said that calling for an early general election would be a betrayal of the country, stressing that elections are held every five years under the constitution. Erdogan told NTV that his ruling Justice and Development Party was planning to reduce the age at which a person could be elected to the parliament to 25.
Erdogan emphasised the successes that had been attained in the economy, saying that Turkey has been stabilised to the degree that it could easily overcome global crises. When we came to power our debt to the IMF was at $23.4 billion and now it has dropped to $11 billion, he said.