Duvar English

Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader Ali Babacan has criticized heavy taxes on alcoholic beverages, saying that it leads to smuggling.

“The taxes on alcoholic beverages are unacceptable. They are being sold to one third of the prices here in our neighboring countries. The fact that the taxes are high leads to smuggling,” Babacan said when asked about increases in private consumption tax (ÖTV).

Turning to the issue of December 2013 graft probes, Babacan said that they were “a minor coup attempt,” but added that the files need to be re-examined.

The probes of Dec. 17-25, 2013 led to the resignation of former ministers Erdoğan Bayraktar, Egemen Bağış, Muammer Güler and Zafer Çağlayan as their relations with Reza Zarrab – a shady Turkish-Iranian businessman – was revealed. According to the probe, Zarrab paid the ministers a number of bribes over several years.

The probes broke the government’s once-friendly ties to the movement of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, which is now officially called the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), as prosecutors purportedly close to the movement launched the wide-ranging probes.

Babacan, who is among the founders of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was an AKP member at the time.

“It was a minor coup attempt against the government at the time that was carried out by a group in the judiciary and police, who prepared files for a long time. However, I think it’s beneficial to re-examine those files,” Babacan said.

When asked whether he expects elections to be held before the scheduled date of 2023, Babacan said, “I don’t think there would be snap polls unless they are forced to.”

“Two conditions need to exist for snap polls to take place. The first is if [Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader] Devlet Bahçeli withdraws his support. The other would be necessitated by social, political and economic conditions,” he said.

Babacan also said that the government abused the atmosphere that occurred following the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt.

“Those who plan coups and stage it need to receive heavy sentences so that military coups don’t come to the agenda again, but unjust trials were held,” he said.

Upon a question on the government’s stance against LGBT individuals, Babacan said, “The state can’t have the duty to change anyone’s lifestyles.”

“We respect everyone’s lifestyle. However, it’s among the constitutional duties to hold the family institution strong,” he said.

Commenting on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent remarks on controlling or shutting down social media platforms, Babacan said, “You can’t fight technology. It’s pointless to silence technology. You can’t fight the country’s youth.”

Babacan also deemed appointment of trustees to municipalities run by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) “unacceptable.”