HDP remains defiant on Russia policy, as Turkish PM slams

HDP remains defiant on Russia policy, as Turkish PM slams

HDP remains defiant on Russia policy, as Turkish PM slams

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Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has continued firing salvoes at both Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), by suggesting these opposition parties purposefully display solidarity with countries whose relations have deteriorated with Ankara, while HDP’s co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş, main target of the prime minister’s salvoes, has remained defiant and argued opposition parties do not have to approve all the government’s policies.

“While the CHP didn’t remember Syria and Egypt earlier when we had good relations; when our relations deteriorated because these countries didn’t respect the democratic rights of their own peoples, [these parties] displayed solidarity by sending delegations to these countries’ administrations” Davutoğlu said on Dec. 25.

“And now, following the airplane crisis, without losing time, the HDP went to display solidarity with Russia and attempted to criticize us from Moscow. He [Demirtaş] saidpy he recognized Russia’s thesis and that Turkey did wrong by fulfilling the requirement of its sovereign right,” he said, delivering a speech at a meeting hosted by the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM) for promotion of the “Turkey” brand.

A day before, the prime minister accused Demirtaş of treason for using a trip to Moscow to condemn Ankara’s shooting down of a Russian warplane over Syria. 

Demirtaş met Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Dec. 23 and criticized Ankara for shooting down the warplane near the border with Syria last month. Moscow denies it had entered Turkish airspace. 

Upon his return from Moscow late on Dec. 24, Demirtaş underlined that his visit to the Russian capital was planned long ago before the crisis.

“Let them tell just one benefit of shooting down of Russia’s plane for Turkey, then I will apologize. Millions of people have been victimized at the moment: Those who have business in Russia, those importing and exporting, those who won tenders there, students and laborers who went there to work,” Demirtaş told reporters upon his arrival at the airport in Istanbul, while emphasizing his party’s efforts to eliminate problems with Russia. He added that the HDP went to Russia because of their ability to defend a principled peace policy.

“We are the opposition party. If we had believed that you have been doing everything appropriately, then we would have been in your party,” he said.

“We are trying to build a door of dialogue. How will we resolve [our problems] and which problem will we resolve with an understanding that labels this as betrayal of the homeland and the nation?” he asked.

Speaking at a press conference at parliament on Dec. 25, Demirtaş made clear that they were not in Moscow in order to voice any demand by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria.

“I and our delegation were not representing the PYD. We haven’t made any appeal on behalf of the Kurds in Syria. As the HDP, we stated how a solution in Syria could be developed starting from domestic policy in Turkey. The Syrian people should determine their future. There must not be any imposition from outside,” Demirtaş said, when asked by reporters whether he asked Russian officials for lending support to the PYD. 

In remarks delivered at the TİM’s meeting, Davutoğlu said, “Unfortunately, our opposition is criticizing the government’s policies in the capitals of countries that we oppose, instead of criticizing them before our nation. No matter what they do, no matter what they say, defending our airspace and land borders is our most natural right and most essential duty and we are determined to fulfill this without giving any concessions.”

Meanwhile, Demirtaş took his parliamentary oath late on Dec. 25. The 26th legislative term of Turkey’s parliament opened on Nov. 17 with newly elected MPs taking their oaths after the Nov. 1 snap elections. Demirtaş was not able to attend the oath-taking session as he had been recovering from upper respiratory tract surgery.