CHP leader calls Erdoğan’s withdrawal of insult cases an ‘elegant move’
Deniz Zeyrek – ANKARA
REUTERS photoMain opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has described President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s one-time decision to withdraw all insult cases against him an “elegant move.”
“Withdrawing a lawsuit is a right, as how it is a right for a person to file a lawsuit. However, it is not right to say, ‘I have forgiven them.’ Because, saying, ‘I have forgiven them,’ while the legal procedures are ongoing amounts to setting up a ruling. Perhaps they will be found not guilty in the end. Therefore, the president withdrawing the cases is an elegant move. This will be a step toward smoothing tension,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, while speaking to daily Hürriyet.
President Erdoğan announced on July 29 that for one time only he was withdrawing all cases against individuals charged with insulting the president, which carries a jail sentence of between one and four years according to the Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code.
“For one time only, I will be forgiving and withdrawing all cases against the many disrespectful and insulting [words] that have been leveled against me,” Erdoğan said, speaking at a ceremony at the presidential palace to commemorate the victims of the July 15 coup attempt.
"I feel that if we do not make use of this opportunity correctly, then it will give the people the right to hold us by the throat," the president said.
"So I feel that all factions of society, politicians first and foremost, will behave accordingly with this new reality, this new sensitive situation before us," he added.
Kılıçdaroğlu also voiced his anticipation that the president’s decision would also pave the way for political parties to self-criticize and contribute to the new process after the July 15 failed coup attempt.
“[The coup attempt] targeted the parliamentary democratic system. Moderation can be counted as a beginning. However, all political parties should ask where and how we did wrong. Turkey needs that self-criticism,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
However, the CHP leader also noted Erdoğan’s bid to bring the Chief of Staff under the Presidency’s control was wrong in terms of both legal order and accountability.
“For example, when the CHP comes to power or a coalition is formed, if the authorities in the Defense Ministry and the Chief of General Staff are tied and have different opinions, there will be serious inconsistencies. Therefore, bringing the Chief of General Staff and the National Intelligence Agency [MİT] under the Presidency’s control does not happen in a parliamentary system and we want the full parliamentary system to be strengthened,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Meanwhile, commenting on the arrests of prominent journalists in the coup attempt probe, the CHP leader urged for cautious implementation.
“We know that Nazlı Ilıcak is not a coup plotter. It is wrong to accuse her of coup plotting. I wish she had never been arrested. The arrest of media personnel leads to questions [about] the fight with the coup plotters,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that an atmosphere which declared everyone guilty would only harm the country.