We will protect Atatürk’s legacy: President Erdoğan
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) aims to “protect the legacy” of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, guarding it from “ideological bigotry that instrumentalizes his name.”
“We consider it a duty to give Atatürk due credit as the commander-in-chief of our Independence War and the founder of our Republic, in front of our nation. Our nation’s respect for Atatürk is eternal,” Erdoğan said at an event marking the 79th anniversary of Atatürk’s passing on Nov. 10.
“There is nothing more natural than respect for a name who was leader of such a struggle to have a valuable place in the nation’s hearts,” he added.
Erdoğan also stated that the name of Atatürk had been “used by certain mentalities” as a “tool for ideological purposes.”
“Putschists, pro-junta circles and all segments that are enemies of this country’s history and this nation’s values are trying to hide under the veil of Atatürkism,” Erdoğan said.
“Reactions against this mentality were sometimes expressed by targeting Atatürk himself, sometimes with wrong expressions and sometimes with misunderstandings,” he added.
The president particularly singled out the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which was founded by Atatürk, for “abusing Atatürk’s name” and “not protecting his legacy,” vowing that his ruling AKP is “determined to protect Atatürk’s legacy.”
“We are saving Atatürk and his memory from the tyranny of these abusers, by guarding the Republic and by guarding Atatürk’s legacy. We aim to bring the nation ‘above the level of contemporary civilization,’ which he one pointed out as his greatest aim,” he said.
“We will not let any party like the CHP kidnap Atatürk from our nation,” Erdoğan added.
“We will understand him and talk about him as our nation’s Mustafa Kemal, our Republic’s Atatürk, and the veteran of our War of Independence,” he said.
CHP responds to Erdoğan’s Atatürk comments
CHP deputy group leader Özgür Özel slammed Erdoğan over his criticisms of the CHP, arguing that the president praised Atatürk only to receive votes for the elections.
“Erdoğan has found the guilty side of the lack of love for Atatürk: CHP,” Özel said on his Twitter account on Nov. 10
“Erdoğan! The reason for your love for Atatürk, why you are uttering his name for the first time is April 16,” he said, referring to the April 16 referendum on constitutional amendments.
The CHP says the referendum was held in an unfair environment and its results were illegitimate.
Özel accused Erdoğan of appropriating Atatürk to lure votes.
“It is futile. This nation sees. On April 16, when you tried to change the regime, the votes were not counted by the help of Supreme Board of Elections. That’s why the first election will be a referendum between diktat lovers and republic lovers,” Özel said.
“You are afraid. Your knees are trembling out of fear,” he added.