CHP’s meeting with EU Socialist group canceled after leader likens Erdoğan to al-Assad
CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu's remarks to Turkish reporters during a press briefing after the first meeting with the EU Socialist group head Hannes Swoboda caused unease. DHA photoA meeting between the president of the group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament with Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu May 15 was canceled, after the latter compared Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
After a press briefing with EU Socialist group leader Hannes Swoboda, Kılıçdaroğlu told a group of Turkish reporters that there was very little difference between Erdoğan and al-Assad in terms of democracy. “Between al-Assad and Erdoğan there is only a difference of shades. Both are oppressive, both have special courts and prosecutors. Media bosses call and ask which journalist is to be put [in jail]. Instructions are given to media. What difference do they have in terms of democracy?” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
However, the Turkish main opposition leader’s words caused some unease among the European delegation as Swoboda released a statement saying that he disagreed with such a comparison between Erdoğan and al-Assad. “Even though Erdoğan’s policies are legitimately criticized, they cannot be compared with al-Assad, who is at war against his own people,” Swoboda said in a statement.
Swoboda reportedly did not want to attend a second meeting scheduled later in the afternoon. The CHP also confirmed that the planned meeting did not take place, but said it was canceled by Kılıçdaroğlu.
CHP Deputy Chair Umut Oran, who was part of the delegation at the talks in Brussels, said that Swoboda asked Kılıçdaroğlu to withdraw his statement on Erdoğan before the second meeting.
“Swoboda transmitted us his discomfort. He made a statement before our meeting. But the statement was to be made after the meeting. Kılıçdaroğlu was upset about Swoboda’s attitude of taking Erdoğan’s defense and decided that there was no necessity of a meeting,” Oran told daily Hürriyet.
For his part, CHP deputy leader Faruk Loğoglu chided Swoboda, arguing that it did not suit freedom of expression. “Freedom of expression should be respected by everyone, including Swoboda,” Loğoğlu said.
CHP treated as they deserved: EU minister
Meanwhile, Turkey’s EU Minister Egemen Bağış said that the main opposition leader had “degraded” himself and his party. “Should any Turkish politician find himself in such a situation abroad, I would not accept it but great minds think alike. Now even Europeans say ‘It’s CHP.’ We can see that CHP are treated as they deserve,” he said from Washington where he is accompanying Erdoğan during his US visit.
“The air of Brussels [was not beneficial] for Kılıçdaroğlu. There is democracy and freedom in this air,” he added.