Quake response proves brotherhood, says Turkish prime minister
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Deputies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) applauds Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as he joins the party’s parliamentary group meeting. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and opposition leaders have hailed the outpouring of solidarity after the earthquake in Van as proof of strong bonds between Turks and Kurds and a blow to those harboring separatist ambitions.
“The decades-old attempts to incite hostility among our people and tear them apart have been buried under the rubble in Van. If 80 provinces across Turkey have mobilized all efforts for their brothers in Van, it shows how morbid this [terrorism] ploy is,” Erdoğan told his party’s parliamentary group meeting.
A fund-raising campaign for Van has collected 118 million Turkish Liras, including a 50-million-dollar donation from Saudi Arabia, Erdoğan said, adding that the money would be spent mostly on accommodation for the quake victims.
The prime minister also condemned the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) for declaring three days of mourning for militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) killed in a Turkish military offensive, saying the move showed their lack of commitment to the relief effort in Van. He also condemned a deadly suicide bombing in the eastern province of Bingöl in the wake of the earthquake.
Erdoğan pledged that the struggle against the PKK “will not upset the balance between security and freedoms.” “There will be no turning back to the 1990s,” he said.
“The security forces are showing the utmost care not to harm the people of the region. And their care is winning great appreciation in the region,” he said.
Despite lingering tensions with the government, BDP co-chair Gültan Kışanak also praised the strong nationwide response to the quake.
“These days of disaster have shown that humanism is still a strong, promising sentiment across Turkey despite the presence of fascists and racists,” she said.
MHP outraged over Barzani visit
The opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli lauded similar praise for the aid campaign for Van, but raised harsh objections to an upcoming visit by Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani.
“Our nation’s solidarity and the way everyone shared the grief has resulted in a spectacular portrait of unity. The aspirations of those who are trying to separate us have been drowned in the deep waters of the Van Lake,” Bahçeli told his parliamentary group yesterday.
Bahçeli questioned whether the government was planning a secret deal to lure the PKK into laying down arms, referring to Barzani’s three-day visit, which is scheduled to begin tomorrow.
“What will they solve through meetings? What concessions will that open the door for? How can you talk with these people when Barzani is supporting terrorists and protecting their camps? We all know of his villainy that has contributed to our defeats.” he said.