CHP leader denies rift in party, blames media

CHP leader denies rift in party, blames media

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
CHP leader denies rift in party, blames media

‘I expect an apology to be offered to me personally,” CHP İzmir Lawmaker Birgül Ayman Güler tells reporters, noting that the attempts “to label her with racism and fascism with a pitiable lack of information and sensitivity.’ DHA photo

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has denied that there is a major rift within his party and blamed the media for exaggerating the recent intra-party row.

“There’s not that much of a problem within the party, to the extent that the media is exaggerating. Those who cannot criticize the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) fulfill their duty by criticizing the CHP. My fellow lawmakers should act by realizing this truth,” Kılıçdaroğlu told private news channel NTV yesterday.

The CHP chair broke his silence days after an intra-party crisis ignited when a neo-nationalist deputy, CHP İzmir Lawmaker Birgül Ayman Güler, said on Jan. 23 that she does not consider the “Turkish nation” and “Kurdish nationality” to be equals, causing CHP Adıyaman Deputy Salih Fırat to resign from the party.

CHP deputies to join Workers’ Party: Daily
Güler’s remarks and Fırat’s resignation led to a turbulent process within the main opposition party as many lawmakers publicly voiced their dismay while Güler defended her statements. Daily Akşam reported yesterday that a group of “neo-nationalist” CHP lawmakers will join the Workers’ Party (İP).

The CHP leader briefly downplayed the report, saying “There’s no such perception.” Amid such a tense atmosphere, Kılıçdaroğlu preferred not to join a major rally of his party held in the southern province of Adana on Jan. 26. For her part, Güler suggested yesterday that it was she who should be offered an apology. Güler accused media of using hostile titles for her and the CHP and said this was part of a wider smear campaign. 

“I expect an apology to be offered to me personally, to my party and also to all my citizens who have been harmed by being unfairly deceived,” Güler told reporters, noting that she expected this apology from “every person and institution who attempted to label her with racism and fascism with a pitiable lack of information and sensitivity and without knowing what they were saying,” as she was simply defending the Turkish nation and Turkish citizenship system. Highlighting that she is a Turkish citizen of Bosnian origin, Güler said she didn’t want Turkey to share the same destiny with the now-disintegrated Yugoslavia, which was her father’s homeland. 

When asked whether Turks and Kurds are equal, Güler responded, “Humanly, Turks and Kurds – no matter who you ask – are of course equal without a doubt. We are not talking about human and cultural equality. We are talking about changing the Constitution and a new political re-establishment.”

Meanwhile, the CHP’s İnce, CHP deputy chair Haluk Koç, and CHP lawmaker Dilek Akagün Yılmaz, who were among a group of neo-nationalist deputies that would allegedly join the İP, strictly refuted the claims in separate statements. 

Arınç: A breaking point for the CHP
Hours after Güler’s press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said at another press conference that he was both saddened and surprised by her statements, suggesting that she should apologize. He also said the incident indicated a threshold for the future of the main opposition party.
“Güler is insistent about her speech [at Parliament]. This is a racist and fascist manner,” Arınç said in response to questions following a Cabinet meeting.
“What matters is where Kılıçdaroğlu and his friends are standing in the face of this speech,” he said, adding that it was now obvious that within the CHP there were two groups - one being “social democrat,” the other being “racist.”
“Kılıçdaroğlu cannot proceed anywhere with nice wishes alone. This is a breaking point,” he said, calling on the CHP leader to make his approach clear with regard to the recent party crisis.