New argument between Turkish PM, main opposition leader involves Papandreou
Former Greek Prime Minister and President of the Socialist International (SI) George Papandreou. AFP photoFormer Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has become a leading figure in a recent polemic between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, with both sides in the conflict citing Papandreou as a witness to the accuracy of their own claims.
The source of the controversy goes back to remarks attributed to Kılıçdaroğlu during a visit to China in January when he mentioned cooperation between the Socialist International (SI) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The remarks were misinterpreted by some to mean the CHP leader had said China was a member of the SI, which it is not.
Erdoğan took this issue up in an address to the parliamentary group of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Feb. 12. He explained that during a recent meeting in Istanbul with Papandreou, the president of the SI, he asked him whether the CCP was a member of the SI.
“He said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘But the main opposition leader stated that it worked [with the SI].’ He started to laugh,” Erdoğan said.
Late Feb. 12, hours after the prime minister’s speech, CHP deputy chair Umut Oran released a written statement on the issue.
“I immediately called Papandreou today. I learned that Papandreou didn’t laugh at this question [from Erdoğan]; and that on the contrary, he told Erdoğan that the Chinese Communist Party is a strategic partner [of the SI], that it has been participating in the council and the committee meetings, and that the Socialist International’s committee on climate change even held its meeting in China,” Oran said.
The deputy leader of the main opposition party also noted that, on the contrary of what Erdoğan implied, there was no difference between the stances of the SI and the CHP concerning the conflict in Syria, adding that both institutions had been against external military interventions in the neighboring country.