Brawls erupt on every day of budget talks in Turkish Parliament
Rıza Özel – ANKARA
Fisticuffs have marred the first three days of 2018 budget talks in the Turkish Parliament, with tensions flaring during debates on a range of issues..
The most recent brawl occurred in the General Assembly on Dec. 13, when main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Tanju Özcan made a speech concerning President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s receipt of the Profile of Courage Award from the American Jewish Congress in 2004.
Özcan’s remarks were part of parliamentary discussions on the U.S.’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital.
Deputy Parliament Speaker Ayşenur Bahçekapılı, a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), criticized Özcan’s speech and recalled the a joint declaration on Jerusalem recently signed by three parties at parliament.
CHP Group Deputy Chairman Özgür Özel then slammed Bahçekapılı for intervening in Özcan’s speech, saying a parliament speaker must manage a parliamentary session impartially.
“Know your place,” Özel told Bahçekapılı, stirring anger among the AKP ranks.
“Sit down! I know how to manage. You should know your place,” Bahçekapılı said in response, followed by several minutes of harsh exchanges between the two lawmakers followed.
Some AKP deputies then squared up to Özel, prompting CHP MP to form a human wall around him.
A session break was announced to put an end to the tension.
The day before, on Dec. 12, another war of words leading to physical blows had broken out in parliament, with AKP and CHP deputies locking horns following a speech by CHP Group Deputy Chair Engin Özkoç.
In his speech, Özkoç said President Erdoğan had been “directing insults” at CHP head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and the main opposition had “the right to respond.”
“If your AKP leader uses the disguise of the presidency to direct insults, we can respond to him in the necessary manner,” he said, prompting irate AKP lawmakers to approach him.
As CHP deputies intervened to protect Özkoç, a fight erupted between the two parties’ lawmakers, which was only interrupted after a break was called.
Another fight also arose later on the same day, this time over a heated exchange between the CHP’s Özel and AKP deputy Alim Tunç.
“Özgür, do you think you know everything?” Tunç asked Özel.
“I know what sort of a person you are. That’s why I cut all communication with you five months ago,” Özel said in response, prompting an enraged Tunç to physically charge at Özel.
CHP and AKP deputies then tried to calm Tunç down, while Özel defended himself.
“I know who you are. It’s unacceptable to charge at people here,” he said, after which the General Assembly session was suspended.
The first day of talks witnessed similar scenes between AKP and CHP MPs.
When Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu defended the suspension of CHP Ataşehir Mayor Battal İlgezdi on Dec. 11, criticism erupted among the main opposition’s ranks.
After a rough argument between CHP deputy Haydar Akar and Soylu, lawmakers from both parties squared up to each other, resulting in a brawl.
Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman subsequently announced a session break.