Coup row dominates Day of Sovereignty
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Tensions are running high between the main opposition leader Kılıçdaroğlu (L) and PM Erdoğan (R) at April 23 ceremonies attended by Chief of General Staff Gen Özel. AP photoPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hailed the ongoing coup probes at Parliament’s special session for its 92nd establishment anniversary, saying that the Parliament was settling accounts with the coups that suspended its will. Meanwhile, Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek urged all political parties to find a solution for jailed lawmakers.
“This Parliament is facing up, questioning and settling scores with the coups. The Parliament will stand up to any assault against its will and protect the national will which is its honor,” Erdoğan said.
The ceremonies to mark April 23 began early in the day when state officials, headed by Çiçek, paid a visit to Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of modern Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Erdoğan did not make an appearance at the Anıtkabir ceremony.
Asked why he had skipped the ceremony at Anıtkabir, Erdoğan told reporters that they should not look for a special meaning. “A prime minister who has attended all ceremonies there over the past nine and a half years cannot have a special reason,” he said.
Later, Parliament was convened for a special session to mark the 92nd anniversary of the establishment of the legislature, which was attended by President Abdullah Gül.
Top military commanders, who have not attended parliamentary sessions since the now-defunct Democratic Society Party (DTP) entered Parliament after the 2007 elections, attended yesterday’s session, among them Chief of the General Staff Necdet Özel. The DTP’s successor the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) shunned the ceremonies in protest.
Opening the special session, Çiçek called on the political parties to solve the problem of jailed deputies. “We face a problem of representation, although difficulties in trial processes are the main reason of it. We have to reach a solution for the issue examining all aspects of it,” Çiçek said.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also voiced similar criticisms, describing the situation as a “shame of the democracy.” “The lawmakers who were elected by the people’s will are still behind bars. This is the shame of our democracy,” he said. In a veiled response to Erdoğan’s criticisms of the policies of the single-party rule of the 1930s, Kılıçdaroğlu said the Turkish revolution had gained popular support because it remained loyal to principle of national sovereignty.
Prime Minister Erdoğan, for his part, said that any outside intervention in the workings of Parliament means an intervention in the independence of the country.
“We have not turned a blind eye to any intervention or intervention plan in this Parliament. I believe our children will not harm the dignity of Parliament and will not allow any intervention either,” Erdoğan said.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, meanwhile, tacitly criticized the government’s foreign policy, saying that “national will” should not be abused for any personal ambition.