Government has turned Turkey’s rivals into foes: CHP
Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
HÜRRİYET photoTurkey’s ongoing crisis with Russia and Iraq has proven that the government’s long-standing and wrongheaded foreign policy has turned Turkey’s regional adversaries into foes and united them into an anti-Turkish bloc, the leader of the main opposition party has said.
“If you are in enmity with all your neighbors, you unite Turkey’s adversaries. Turkey created this with its wrongful foreign policy. They hit the road with a zero-problems-with-neighbors policy, but they have arrived at zero neighbors,” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview on Dec. 14.
Citing the ongoing crisis with Russia over the downing of a Russian warplane by the Turkish Air Force and with Iraq over the deployment of Turkish troops near Mosul without the consent of the central Iraqi government, Kılıçdaroğlu accused the government of mismanaging the crises with neighbors, ruining Turkey’s relations with all regional countries.
“Instead of conducting relations in a healthy way, you start a fight and then you try to find ways how to end this fight peacefully. But in the meantime, you are creating enemies. You are uniting all of Turkey’s adversaries into the same camp and creating a very strong front against Turkey,” he said, while harshly criticizing the AKP’s foreign policy choices.
Iraq is a sovereign country
On the Iraqi crisis, Kılıçdaroğlu recalled a conversation with former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who complained about Turkey’s stance toward Bahgdad. “Al-Maliki once told me: ‘We are a sovereign country. ‘We have our flag, our constitution. We are represented as a sovereign state in the U.N. So do not treat us as if we are a province of Turkey.’ And he is right,” the CHP leader said.
“You deploy troops to Iraq but the central government has no information about this. You should inform them. You deploy troops as if you are doing it in your own country. This is unacceptable. And now you are pulling them back,” Kılıçdaroğlu said as news broke yesterday that Turkey had to withdraw some of its troops from the Bashiqa training camp.
On the Russian front, Kılıçdaroğlu touched on another dimension of the problem amid growing concerns that Russia could cut the flow of natural gas to Turkey. “This government did not even think about the security of Turkey. Why has Turkey become so dependent on one country for energy?” he asked, referring to Turkey’s roughly 65 percent dependence on Russian gas for electricity and heating.
EU has to open more chapters
The CHP leader pledged full support to the ongoing accelerated EU process and called the EU to open more chapters if it wants to contribute to the democratization process.
“The EU had to give a greater contribution to the democratization process of Turkey as part of its full membership talks. The EU distanced itself from Turkey as Turkey drifted away from democracy,” he said. “But the EU has now realized Turkey’s importance again after the Syrian issue. It has to open more chapters if it wants Turkey to be democratized and a respected member of the international community.”
The CHP leader also issued a blank check to the government’s moves aiming at the further democratization of Turkey in line with the EU harmonization process. “We will support all of them,” he said.
“But there is something the media does not highlight: Cyprus. Parliament needs to be informed about Cyprus [talks]. We need to know what concessions will be given or not throughout this process because the Cyprus issue sits at the very heart of all these things. Although we are focused on visa liberalization and the EU process, Westerners are setting their hopes on the outcome of the Cyprus talks. We are not even discussing this in parliament.”
Kılıçdaroğlu said he was also ready to discuss the new constitution but ruled out negotiating on the adoption of the presidential system. “Turkey has many problems, but the president is only preoccupied with his own political career. They should not come to us with the presidential system.”
Southeast no different than Syria
Continued violence in various parts of southeastern provinces under continual curfews is also a product of the government’s wrongful policies, Kılıçdaroğlu said, likening the state of affairs in districts like Cizre or Sur to Syria. “When you look at Turkey’s east and southeast, you see no difference from Syria. People are getting killed and bullets are flying into the walls of buildings here, too. Who brought Turkey to this point? Turkey is rapidly drifting into a chaotic situation. The means to resolving this problem have already slipped from their hands. We are rapidly drifting into chaos. And there can be no healthy governance during chaotic situations.”
Kılıçdaroğlu, who paid a visit to recently imprisoned prominent journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül from daily Cumhuriyet on Dec. 13, criticized the government for imposing authoritarianism even though they have been elected through the people’s vote, unlike junta governments. “There is one difference between this government and the Sept. 12, 1980, coup d’état leaders. The junta-government was closed to the outer world, this one, on the other hand, has connections with the world, the EU and the Council of Europe,” he said.
“But now,” he said, “Wherever they go, they are subject to questions like ‘Why are journalists in prison?’” Kılıçdaroğlu said. “They should better think what they are in this situation.”
Turkey is perceived as a third-class democracy because all of its democratic shortcomings, he said. “We just do not want to be third class. Turkey and the Turkish people deserve to be a first-class democracy.”