ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

The prime minister has revealed that despite apparent friction with former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer he has always wanted to meet the former leader in a less formal atmosphere. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he wished he had had a family dinner with Sezer, known for his uncompromising secular views, in an interview published in daily Hürriyet yesterday.
�However, I have never succeeded being a guest of my president in my own country for five-and-a-half years. I wish we could have had a dinner together with our families. I would prefer to have talked about national problems in a cozy atmosphere,� Erdoğan maintained. Sezer was particularly sensitive on the issue of the Islamic headscarf, which Erdoğan's wife, Emine Erdoğan, wears.

�Gül was a consensus candidate'
Responding to a question on the latest presidential elections, which sparked a harsh row between the government and the opposition, Erdoğan said the choice of Abdullah Gül was the result of a consensus within the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP. �I like taking advice. I respect each opinion coming from the bottom to the top of my party. In those days, Mr. Gül and I were the key figures in all the advisories and the opinion surveys,� he claimed. Gül, the former foreign minister, was elected president Aug. 28, after the AKP swept general elections in July. The AKP was blamed for imposing its own candidate by abusing its parliamentary majority.
�Please imagine yourself in my position. I am a politician. If I don't follow this path, how can I guarantee my future as a politician? There was an alliance for both my candidacy and that of Mr. Gül,� Erdoğan stressed.
He also dismissed claims that it was former Parliament Speaker Bülent Arınç who forced him to bring Gül forward as the AKP's choice for president. �This is out of the question. Mr.Gül is an internationally well-known figure. He has acquired a wide range of experience at the Foreign Ministry,� underlined Erdoğan, and noted that he consulted Gül, ex-member of the AKP brass Abdullatif Şener and Arınç to determine the candidate.