Turkish main opposition CHP calls on PM to unveil negotiations
Main opposition Republican People’s Party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. AA Photo
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has demanded Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to publicize details of what he has been negotiating with jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan, in light of Öcalan’s ceasefire call.
“Erdoğan sits at one side if the table, Öcalan at the other, and they are negotiating. I am now being asked my opinion on [their discussion]. How can I make a comment on an issue that I don’t know about? It’s not only me, no one knows,” Kılıçdaroğlu said March 22 at Istanbul’s Koç University, where he answered university students’ questions.
Indirect response to absence of Turkish flag
However, Kılıçdaroğlu preferred to remain silent about the controversy on the absence of a Turkish flag in the Nevruz celebrations. Earlier, Kılıçdaroğlu ha taken to social media to post a line from the Turkish national anthem, in an indirect comment on the lack of a Turkish flag at March 21’s Nevruz celebrations in Diyarbakır.
Kılıçdaroğlu posted a line from the “İstiklal Marşı” to his Twitter account, while attaching a photograph of the Turkish flag to the line. “Frown not, I beseech you, oh thou coy crescent,” says the line of the anthem, which pays tribute to the Turkish flag among several other heroic themes.
The message appears to be a cautious reaction to the absence of a Turkish flag at the celebrations, during which upward of a million people listened to a cease-fire call from outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan.
Kılıçdaroğlu’s guarded response was in stark contrast to that of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, who expressed his fury at the conspicuous absence of a Turkish flag at the rally amid a see of flags bearing Öcalan’s picture by releasing a statement within hours of the rally. The CHP leader did not make any public appearance after the celebration until noon today, when he departed from Ankara for a meeting in Istanbul.
Additionally, Kılıçdaroğlu also instructed his party’s executives and lawmakers not to make any statement on the issue, suggesting that such a move would be assumed to be tantamount to recognizing Öcalan as a counterpart.
On March 21, CHP Deputy Chair Gürsel Tekin said party members would not comment on the issue before Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
On the same day, however, Erdoğan issued remarks on the issue, saying Turkey would end military operations against the PKK if militants halted their attacks.
As such, there is anticipation that Kılıçdaroğlu might use a conference this afternoon at Istanbul’s Koç University as a venue to deliver comments on Öcalan’s truce call.