Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Chair Numan Kurtulmuş refuted claims by Steven A. Cook, a prominent Turkey expert, that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was too ill to continue governing Turkey, the daily Cumhuriyet reported on Oct. 3.
Cook had run a story on Oct. 1 in the Washington-based news publication Foreign Policy that hinted the president's health was in fast decline, pointing to multiple clips taken over the last year that showed Erdoğan shuffling, struggling to walk and even slurring his words in one instant.
Cook also claimed that Erdoğan's condition was so severe that he needed to be given hard painkillers before public appearances.
The expert's bottomline claim was that Erdoğan would be unable to run for the presidency in the 2023 elections and that Defense Minister Hulusi Akar would step in instead.
Kurtulmuş countered these claims in a meeting with the Black Sea Ordu province's local AKP representatives, saying that the 2023 elections were critical for Turkey's future, and that some players wanted "Turkey to be an ungovernable state during the process."
"Some want Turkey to go backwards, and for old discussions to be stirred up in Turkey. We are even entering a period where commissioned articles are being published abroad," Kurtulmuş said.
No domestic or international mandates will determine who will govern Turkey anymore, Kurtulmuş said, adding that "one of the greatest achievements of the AKP government is its never giving up on the democratic direction."