European Socialist group head rejects claims of backing ruling AKP

European Socialist group head rejects claims of backing ruling AKP

STRASBOURG - Anatolia News Agency
European Socialist group head rejects claims of backing ruling AKP

The president of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group at the European Parliament, Hannes Swoboda, had slammed the CHP leader's statements likening Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Bashar al-Assad. A meeting between the CHP and the European Socialists was canceled after Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu refused to retract his statements. AA photo

The European Parliament's Socialist group president, Hannes Swoboda, has strongly rejected claims from the Turkish main opposition that he "backs" the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). "I can accept any sort of criticism, but I can't accept lies," Swoboda told reporters.

Swoboda has been the target of criticism from the Republican People's Party (CHP), which is also a member of the Socialist International, since he asked its leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to retract statements that he made in Brussels likening Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The CHP denounced Swoboda, saying the veteran Austrian politician was the AKP's "64th Wise Person," in reference to the 63-member wise persons' commission, which is traveling across Turkey to raise support for the ongoing peace process on the Kurdish issue.

Some media outlets have suggested that the CHP has started investigating relations between the German technology giant Siemens, where Swoboda's wife is a board member, and the Turkish government. In 2010, Kılıçdaroğlu, the CHP's parliamentary group deputy head at the time, handed a censure motion to Parliament, requesting an investigation into claims that bribes had been distributed in Turkey by a number of international firms, including Siemens.

"I want to keep the discussion [polite]. This not the tone that I am used to," Swoboda said.

Erdoğan had told a reporter in Washington that he would refer Kılıçdaroğlu to court over the latter's statements comparing him to al-Assad.

Swoboda also criticized the comparison soon after the incident, stressing that he had previously rejected claims that he was defending Erdoğan, saying that it was not possible to compare the elected prime minister of a country with a brutal dictator.