Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
has challenged President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
to prove his claims that he met with the plotters of the July 15, 2016, failed coup attempt, widely believed to have been masterminded by the followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
Erdoğan on April 10 accused Kılıçdaroğlu of being in contact with coup plotters on the night of the thwarted coup, adding that he would have never invited Kılıçdaroğlu to the much-heralded “unity rally” in Istanbul’s Yenikapı in the aftermath of the foiled putsch had he known about the CHP’s “agreement with coup plotters.”
When asked about Erdoğan’s remarks, Kılıçdaroğlu said he would thank the president if he presents proof on the “negotiation with coup plotters” claims.
“If Mr. President proves this I will thank him, but if he doesn’t, we will declare him a slanderer. If a president alleges something, he has to stand behind his words or commitments. I went to Yenikapı not because he wanted me to, but because I stand against coups,” Kılıçdaroğlu said late on April 11, while adding that he presented a 12-article plan as a precautionary way to prevent Turkey from experiencing coups again.
“I went there for the sake of the national will and presented my views. I’m stand behind those ideas today. I didn’t deliver the state to a parallel terrorist organization,” he said, referring to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
“I didn’t do any of those appointments. Who did them? Who delivered them into the state, police and army?” he said.
After Erdoğan’s remarks, Hayati Yazıcı, the deputy leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said on April 11 that he was on the same flight with Kılıçdaroğlu on the night of thwarted coup but did not know what he did after he entered the VIP lounge at the Atatürk
“Kılıçdaroğlu was sitting next to me on the plane. We chatted. When we were about to land, Kılıçdaroğlu’s guards and advisors approached him and said there were tanks on the bridges,” Yazıcı said, adding that they talked about the coup attempt until they landed.
“Another information came regarding warplanes flying over Ankara. It’s a very baseless attempt when Turkey is carrying out a leap. We exchanged words like this with each other. The plane landed and we got on the transfer vehicle. We didn’t talk because the phones were ringing. We arrived at the VIP hall. I bought a plane ticket to Ankara, but they told me that all flights were stopped, so I claimed my money and went to the small VIP hall. I called the prime minister and talked to him. I called the president, but couldn’t get through to him,” he added.
Saying that he was together with Kılıçdaroğlu until they entered the VIP hall, Yazıcı stated that he was told the CHP
leader had left when he asked where he was.
“There were people greeting Kılıçdaroğlu when we arrived at the hall. I thought he went to another VIP hall. I asked where he was when I was leaving. They said, ‘It’s been quite a while since he left.’ My witnessing regarding him is this much. I don’t know the rest. I left the airport to go to the party’s provincial building. There was a military vehicle at the exit. I left the place with difficulty,” he added.
Kılıçdaroğlu commented on Yazıcı’s remarks, saying that he did not need to make a specific statement on the issue.
“We were together on the plane. He didn’t need to make a specific statement,” he said on April 12.
Another political figure on the same plane with Kılıçdaroğlu was Ertuğrul Kürkçü, an opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker from the western province of İzmir, who noted that they were told to wait as it was impossible to leave the airport.
“When we received information that it was possible to leave, everyone got out of the VIP hall with their greeters. There were no putschist soldiers or tanks around the hall. I saw Kılıçdaroğlu leaving, but since there were no tanks to stand on top of, I didn’t see Yazıcı resisting them,” Kürkçü said on April 11.