Meshaal popular among AKP supporters
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Daily News Photo / Selahattin Sönmez
Among the many high-profile leaders from around the world, Khaled Meshaal, the head of the Hamas movement, was by far the most popular foreign guest for the thousands of supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who gathered for the party’s convention in Ankara yesterday.
In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan introduced all foreign dignitaries attending the convention one by one. The biggest applause from the AKP supporters present came for Meshaal, prompting him to stand up and greet the audience.
While Meshaal was greeting the audience, slogans such as “Damn Israel” echoed around the convention hall.
Erdoğan’s opening remarks included greetings for many – from the rebels in Syria to the legendary Turkish folk singer and poet Neşet Ertaş who lost his life last week. The audience responded with applause when the prime minister said: “I wholeheartedly greet all of the heroes of Syria.”
Erdoğan’s quotations, taken from Turkish poets of all ideological camps, were seen as a means of giving a message of unity.
As the guests were being introduced the word “Kurdistan” was omitted when the president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Massoud Barzani was announced.
The extravagant design of the convention hall and the messages delivered by the posters were aimed at emphasizing Erdoğan’s capacity as a global leader.
“Great nation, great power, target 2023,” was the slogan of the congress, reflecting Erdoğan and his ruling AKP’s aspirations to still be in power on the centennial anniversary of the foundation of the Turkish Republic. A world map was on display behind the rostrum, as well as the flag of Turkey and various party flags in different colors.
The AKP was founded in August 2001 and it first came to power in the November 2002 elections, securing over two-thirds of the parliamentary seats. In early general elections in July 2007 the ruling party increased its support to 47 percent, while in the general elections of June 12, 2011 the party boosted its popular vote to 49.9 percent, claiming 327 parliamentary seats to form a third consecutive majority government.
Yesterday, tens of thousands of those AKP supporters from the 81 provinces of the country flocked to the capital city in order to follow the convention. Most of them had to stay outside, as the 10,000-person capacity hall was unable to meet the demand.
“We have dreams, we have love,” “Turkey’s party, Turkey’s leader,” “Everything is for Turkey, this light will not fade,” and “We are Turkey together,” read some of the banners on display.
Immunity problem blocks solution in parliament
The main topic on Parliament’s agenda in the new legislative year will be the Kurdish problem. On this subject, the AKP and the CHP may try to form a joint commission, and there is a possibility that the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) may come to the table. Contact to this end is expected to begin soon. However, if the AKP attempts to end the political immunity of BDP members of Parliament, the solution process may well be blocked.
“You cannot demand peace by saying ‘I will dismiss the Kurds from Parliament.’ If you say so, your sincerity will be suspected and dialogue will become more difficult,” the BDP’s Gülten Kışanak said to me during a recent conversation.
Parliament will begin to work with Syria motion
Parliament is set to begin its new legislative year today and its agenda appears to be very busy until the end of the year. Parliament’s first activity will be the motion negotiations.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP) is making plans for a motion with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
The motion, which is being prepared by a group headed by Republican People’s Party deputy leader Hurşit Güneş, will mostly cover Turkey’s Syria policies and the camps housing Syrian opponents and soldiers.