CHP head criticizes government over ‘sidestepping’ arms sent to Syria
ANKARA/İZMİR – Anadolu Agency
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s changing stance on the Syria-bound Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MİT) trucks, which were stopped in Jan. 2014.
“You can of course send aid to the poor and wounded there,” said Kılıçdaroğlu on May 31, during a visit to painter Yaşar Çallı, who painted Kılıçdaroğlu’s portraits. “But it does not suit Turkey if you hide bombs under medicine and then deny this, then, when documents show up, accept it and ‘weave’ [around the issue].”
Kılıçdaroğlu was referring to photographs revealed by daily Cumhuriyet on May 29 taken by the police and gendarmerie forces, allegedly showing the weapons seized during the controversial raid. The report said artillery shells, mortar bombs and machine gun ammunition were hidden in crates below boxes of medicine in the trucks. An anti-terrorism investigation was launched into the daily over the story.
The trucks belonging to the MİT were stopped by a prosecutor who had the gendarmerie search the vehicles in the southern Turkish province of Adana Jan. 2014 before they crossed into Syria. Claiming that the trucks were carrying “humanitarian aid to Turkmens” in the war-torn country, the Turkish government accused the followers of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen in the state’s judiciary and security institutions of illegally ordering the search.
During a speech he held at his party’s rally in İzmir, where he is a candidate, Kılıçdaroğlu said one of Turkey’s biggest problems was financial waste, while also slamming the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government over its comparison of the cost of state cars to “peanuts.”
“Waste is being created with your money. You insult the people of this country if you call a car reign of three billion liras ‘peanuts,’” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“You are using religion to legitimize your own waste and corruption … you show the pope as an example saying that ‘even he has a plane,’” he said, adding that Pope Francis’ office had denied claims that the Vatican owned a plane.
Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek said that the cost of cars used by state officials is “peanuts” in comparison to the country’s budget, at a speech in Turkey’s southeastern province of Gaziantep on May 23.
“If you add up all of these [officials using a state car, which Şimşek says is around 2,200 individuals], this figure [spent on state cars] is peanuts compared to Turkey’s domestic income, within the budget,” Şimşek said, adding that in 2014, Turkey had spent 3.3 billion Turkish Liras on these cars’ purchases, rents, maintenance and fuel, whereas Turkey’s budget was 473 billion liras.
Kılıçdaroğlu also asked for the votes of the pensioners in İzmir, reiterating his party’s promise to grant two pensions every year on religious holidays.
“I want all of your votes. Say ‘stop,’ ‘enough,’ ‘enough with them.’ They have been governing for the past 13 years and they have ruined you,” said Kılıçdaroğlu.