Immunity debate grabs AKP
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sought to keep his party united over the debate on lifting the immunities of ten lawmakers by soothing party dissidents’ concerns while strongly urging the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to denounce terror if they want to continue their political career under the roof of Parliament.
“We are going to examine the content of the summary of proceedings in detail. We may emphasize on those who are related with terror and corruption,” Erdoğan told his parliamentary group in a closed session yesterday, according to sources familiar with the meeting. Erdoğan’s words were interpreted to mean that the party was not aiming at singling out the BDP lawmakers’ immunities. This proposal is also in line with the main opposition stance that calls on the government to bring all summary of proceedings together before the General Assembly.
However, the meeting did not produce a concrete decision and the tendency is to wait for the completion of necessary procedures at a parliamentary panel that will review the summary of proceedings of concerned lawmakers.
Erdoğan gathered his lawmakers at the party headquarters instead of Parliament to hold a closed session to hear and to assuage concerns of those who oppose the abolishment of the immunities of ten lawmakers, as the move could decrease votes for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the southeastern Anatolian region.
Some 16 AKP deputies took the floor to speak during the meeting with Diyarbakır Deputy Galip Ensarioğlu, becoming more vocal in their expression of dissidents’ concerns. “The political ground will be narrowed if their immunities are to be removed. The only party that can give hope to the southeastern Anatolian region is the AKP. The conditions have changed since 1994 but this move will surely have consequences,” he said.
Ensarioğlu’s words were echoed by some other lawmakers who said the AKP’s votes would decrease in such a case, to which Erdoğan swiftly replied, “work more to close that gap.”
“This is not solely an issue of southeastern Anatolia. It has repercussions in the West and in the Aegean as well. This is the problem of Turkey and expectations of the people in different parts of the country do not overlap,” Erdoğan stressed.
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç also took stage and advised avoiding the adoption of a road map on this issue before the relevant parliamentary bodies took action. “This will take one or two months,” he said. In response to the dissidents’ views, EU Minister Egemen Bağış said he would be the one who would be subjected to the criticisms from the EU in the case of the abolishment of lawmaker immunities. “But we have the terror problem. This should not go this way. If their immunities are lifted then we’ll explain it to the EU,” he stressed.
Erdoğan harsh against BDP
Before the closed session, Erdoğan delivered his messages against the BDP and responded to President Abdullah Gül in an indirect way.
“No offense, if they will be at the Parliament, they should first show that they don’t support terror. Let them cut their organic ties with the terror organization. Let them condemn terror. Otherwise, we do not accept [their] existence as an extension of the terror organization under the roof of Parliament, we don’t accept such thing,” Erdoğan said at a review and consultation meeting with deputies of his party.
In an indirect response to Gül’s warning that mistakes committed in 1994 – where leading Kurdish lawmakers were arrested in Parliament after their immunities were removed – should not be repeated, Erdoğan suggested that it was not right to try to find analogies between today’s situation and the situation in 1994. “Today’s conditions are not the same as the conditions of that time and we cannot let the [BDP] do whatever they want,” Erdoğan said.
In response, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-leader Gülten Kışanak defied Erdoğan’s remarks on the current conditions being different from those of 1994.
“Now is not like 1994. If you once more send Kurds away from this Parliament, then Kurds will consider whether to come to this Parliament once again or not,” Kışanak said.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, meanwhile, reiterated his position that all legal immunity of lawmakers should be limited, describing rostrum immunity. “They [AKP] say they would pick out some of the lawmakers and abolish their immunity. This mentality is unacceptable. All or nothing. Bring all immunity files properly to the General Assembly, I assure everybody that all 135 CHP lawmakers will vote for abolishing immunities,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.