CHP makes its foreign policy visible

CHP makes its foreign policy visible

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
CHP makes its foreign policy visible

CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu will meet with Iraqi PM al-Maliki in January 2013. DAILY NEWS photo / Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The Turkish government’s “zero problems with neighbors” policy might be on the backburner amid tension with its southern neighbors, but the main opposition seems to have assumed the mantle of the lofty foreign policy, beating a path to regional capitals where the ruling party no longer dares tread.

Soon after meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus as part of successful efforts to rescue a Turkish journalist, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) will now meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose relations with Ankara have turned increasingly sour.

CHP announced yesterday a planned visit by leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to Iraq to meet with al-Maliki, just days after Energy Minister Taner Yıldız was forced to abandon plans to fly to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. The chairman of the Iraqi Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee, Humam Hamoudi, who was in Istanbul to attend an Ashura commemoration on Nov. 25, conveyed al-Maliki’s invitation to Kılıçdaroğlu.

The CHP leader accepted the Iraqi premier’s invitation, although it is not yet clear when Kılıçdaroğlu will conduct the visit.

The CHP deputy chair tasked with foreign relations, Faruk Loğoğlu, said Kılıçdaroğlu’s visit was previously planned and had nothing to do with Baghdad’s refusal to allow Yıldız to fly to Arbil. Yıldız was forced to abandon plans to fly to Arbil on Dec. 4 when Iraq’s central government issued a last-minute decree.

Visit ‘already planned’

“This visit had already been planned when Yıldız was not allowed to land in Iraq. We are not in a position to determine our moves and plans according to the government,” Loğoğlu told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

Loğoğlu will attend a conference organized by the International Middle East Peace Research Center (IMPR) in Baghdad on Dec. 25. Kılıçdaroğlu’s schedule for an Iraqi visit will become clear after Loğoğlu’s visit to Baghdad, the deputy chair said. The visit is likely to take place in January 2013, but the date is not certain. Kılıçdaroğlu may visit Kirkuk, Arbil and Najaf along with Baghdad, depending on the length of his visit, sources said.

When Turkey refused to extradite Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in absentia by an Iraqi court, Loğoğlu blamed the government for acting in line with sectarian inspirations in a tribal mentality.

A heated debate between the CHP and the government also erupted when Turkish journalist Cüneyt Ünal, who was kept in prison for three months in Aleppo, was handed over by Syria to a delegation led by the CHP following CHP deputy Refik Eryılmaz’s meeting with al-Assad in October.

Separately, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi also invited Kılıçdaroğlu to visit his country when they met in Ankara on Sep. 30. The CHP leader is planning to visit Egypt but the date is not yet clear. Loğoğlu told NTV news channel yesterday “We would like to visit both Gaza and Ramallah,” upon a question whether Kılıçdaroğlu will visit Gaza.