Erdoğan welcomes party leaders in rare meeting
AA photoA rare meeting of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli took place at the Presidential Palace in Ankara on July 25, with the recent failed military coup attempt and measures taken against coup plotters on the agenda.
Yıldırım was first to arrive at the palace, followed by Kılıçdaroğlu and Bahçeli, who were both visiting the huge palace for the first time ever.
Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın made a statement after the meeting, stating that measures that will be taken to prevent a similar attempt were discussed.
“During the meeting, steps to be taken for the freedom, security and welfare of our nation - which is united around democracy and the rule of law - the state of emergency, security measures, works around the new constitution and economic policies were evaluated,” Kalın told reporters.
Erdoğan’s invitation excluded the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, as the government continues to be estranged from the HDP amid ongoing clashes between the security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The meeting went on for around three hours.
Erdoğan’s meeting with Kılıçdaroğlu was seen by many as a possible sign of political bridge-building, as the two have engaged in harsh exchanges in Turkey’s polarized political landscape in recent years.
The CHP head had previously refused to go to the controversial presidential palace in Ankara since Erdoğan moved into it in 2014. Kılıçdaroğlu had sworn repeatedly to only visit the “unlicensed” palace in the event of a national security crisis.
Sources from the office of the president said before the meeting that Erdoğan would invite the three party leaders for their united stance against the coup attempt and also listen to their views on ongoing measures taken against supporters of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen within the state.
News agencies reported that the Turkish president sent a letter to the head of the three parties.
“The armed coup attempt by the FETÖ terrorist group aiming to demolish the democratic state ruled by a constitution, fundamental rights and liberties and the Republic of Turkey was prevented by the brave resistance of our people who strongly adhered to democracy,” read the letter.
The “Fetullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ)” and “Parallel State Structure (PDY)” are two definitions used by the Turkish government to refer to the followers of Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania and whose extradition is demanded by Ankara, which says he was behind the July 15 coup attempt in a bid to overthrow the government.
“The Turkish people took on important responsibilities of all our institutions with their decisive stance against the coup attempt and now expect our political parties to carry out the same responsibilities in this extremely critical period when we need to be in solidarity,” the letter stated, underlining that the same decisive stance was expected from all political parties in Turkey.
The meeting came one day after another rare event, when members and representatives of several political parties, including the AKP, joined an anti-coup demonstration in central Istanbul organized by the CHP.
At the rally titled the “Republic and Democracy Rally,” Kılıçdaroğlu announced a 10-point “Taksim Declaration,” saying the coup attempt targeted Turkey’s parliamentary democracy.
“Although the Turkish Grand National Assembly was under bombardment, it continued to perform its duties and managed to repel the coup. We condemn and denounce the perpetrators, their supporters in the country and, if there are any, abroad,” he said.
After the leaders’ meeting on July 25, the cabinet met under Erdoğan, also at the presidential palace.
“This was a positive meeting in terms of normalization in politics,” CHP sources said after the meeting.
“Turkey is going through an extraordinary period,” said CHP secretary General Kamil Okyay Sındır after the meeting, while responding to journalists’ questions on Kılıçdaroğlu’s former stance against the palace.