Davutoğlu criticizes university conference cancellation

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Former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (Aykut Unlupinar / Anadolu Agency)

Ahmet Davutoğlu, former prime minister of Turkey and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy, has criticized a university decision to cancel a conference he was scheduled to speak at on Nov. 27, saying no one can put a barrier between him and his students.

Istanbul’s Marmara University abruptly cancelled a conference that was to feature Davutoğlu speaking about his new book “Duruş” (Stance) on Nov. 27.

“The relationship between teachers and students is not a relation of status and position, but rather a heart and soul relation. No one can put a barrier between me and my students. No one can disconnect us from the younger generation,” Davutoğlu told the media.

“It was allowed in the beginning. The new decision was taken by the university administration. They said security was the reason for the cancellation. Hoca [Davutoğlu] was a professor at this university, but he cannot even speak there now,” a source close to Davutoğlu told the Hurriyet daily on Thursday.

Davutoğlu resigned from his post as prime minister shortly after the release of the Pelican Brief, which was posted online by an anonymous group in May 2016 and targeted Davutoğlu for allegedly trying to undermine Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by, among other things, conspiring with Europe.

Breaking his silence about the Pelican Brief, Davutoğlu in June said his party was quickly weakening its own values and had been suffering from the virus of character assassination.

“We have witnessed an incident called the Pelican Brief. Unfortunately, this [attack] was carried out on many figures in the party. … What saddened me most has been the silence of our friends on this issue. What was done was character assassination,” Davutoğlu said.
The Pelican Brief was allegedly written by a group of pro-Erdoğan journalists such as Cemil Barlas and Hilal Kaplan in order to ensure Davutoğlu’s resignation.

Davutoğlu, who became prime minister in 2014, after Erdoğan was elected president, had long been seen as subservient to Erdoğan.

But simmering tensions between them increased over time, leading to speculation in the Turkish news media about a rift and Davutoğlu’s eventual resignation.

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