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Protest, age, 'prophet row' mark Parliament's agenda

ANKARA Daily News Parliament Bureau | 2/9/2010 12:00:00 AM |

While the battle of words between the ruling and opposition party leaders dominated Tuesday’s parliamentary group meetings, the tension escalated after a citizen opened a banner reading, “No to a nuclear plant in Sinop”

Parliament was the scene of protest Tuesday as one person unveiled a banner criticizing the government’s plan to establish a nuclear plant in the Black Sea province of Sinop.

While the battle of words between the ruling and opposition party leaders dominated Tuesday’s parliamentary group meetings, the tension escalated after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s address was interrupted by a person opening a banner reading, “No to a nuclear plant in Sinop.”

As police led away the protester, who was later identified as a member of Greenpeace, Erdoğan criticized the media who wanted to photograph the incident. “Those [media] who want to follow the country’s important developments, should follow them with us. Let them go [out] if they want to follow such trivial things,” Erdoğan said.

The prime minister also criticized the protester, saying, “We won’t allow people with a piece of rag in their hand to prevent Turkey’s move to benefit from a nuclear plant.”

Meanwhile, repercussions over last week’s “prophet row” continued Tuesday. Speaking at the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP’s, parliamentary group meeting, party leader Devlet Bahçeli said the debate in Parliament was tantamount to AKP revenge on the Turkish nation.

Criticizing Erdoğan’s description of the MHP as a “fascist party,” Bahçeli said: “We won’t allow empty threats and will dismiss all types of attacks. Now I address everybody in Parliament, they will see what will happen to those who come within 1 meter of MHP seats.”

[HH] PM, Bahçeli both slam media

Bahçeli also criticized the media’s handling of the incidents and said they did not expect praise and support from the media but did demand truth and an objective eye. Bahçeli also emphasized that his party will not forgive the media bosses who granted their media facilities for the use of the government.

“Our party will not forget those columnists who wrote comments based on orders from certain powers and, when the time comes, we will make them give an account in front of the judiciary,” Bahçeli said.

Responding to Bahçeli’s “1 meter” remark, Erdoğan said: “I delegate Bahçeli to those working in the field of medicine. We have no relation with fascism and we don’t know its definition as you [Bahçeli] know it. But, we can figure out its meaning from your [Bahçeli] threats and aspersions.”

Erdoğan also leveled criticism against the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, and its leader, Deniz Baykal, for engaging in populist rhetoric.

Referring to a visit from the CHP’s Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to a family living in Ankara’s suburban Altındağ district, Erdoğan said: “The CHP visited a poor family. The nation has waited for that. But let it not be a one-day remembrance. … The nation doesn’t give credit to you [Baykal], if you don’t reconcile with the values of this nation and you don’t share the people’s soup with them.”

Erdoğan also said Baykal wanted an early election because he was getting older. “We can understand why he is so aggressive. He’s getting old. If he can’t come to power in the next elections, then he will make his jubilee as the chronic opposition,” Erdoğan said, reiterating that the elections will be held at their scheduled time.

[HH] Age debate

In his address to his deputies, Baykal, meanwhile, said it was Erdoğan’s evocation of past incidents surrounding his family that led to the fistfight in Parliament last week.

“Wives and children can’t be exploited for political benefit. Erdoğan broke this rule and told of the past incidents related to his wife. If you want to talk about dress in Turkey, you shall not make that over your wife. If you do that by demanding mercy and being involved in victim psychology, then you add a wrong dimension to a political debate,” Baykal said.

Recalling that former French President Jacques Chirac asked Erdoğan not to bring his wife to France during his visit to the country in 2004 because of her headscarf, Baykal said: “We knew about this event but have never mentioned it. Did we ever bring this issue to the country’s agenda?”

Responding to questions from the members of the press on Erdoğan’s criticism of his age, Baykal also said after the meeting that it was up to God to determine how long people will stay in politics.

“Erdoğan has begun to interfere with God’s providence. This is a sign of desperation,” Baykal said.

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