Nationalists head keeps his top post
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Facing an intra-party challenge, Bahçeli sees no Kurdish woes.DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZThere is no Kurdish problem in Turkey, re-elected Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli said yesterday at his party’s 10th congress, even though he dedicated half of his two-hour-long speech to the decades-old problem.
“The murderer of İmralı [the convicted leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, who is serving life sentence on İmralı island] will first be sent to house arrest, and will then be released. Federative administration for Turkey will be implemented with the municipal bill proposal.
‘Turkishness’ will be eliminated by constitutional amendment and the prime minister’s complaints on ‘double-headed administration’ will pave the way for a presidential system, and this will be an excuse for state administration [for Turkey],” Bahçeli said in an address to his delegates yesterday.
Bahçeli overcame a challenge from two challengers to retain his post as party leader, winning the approval of 725 delegates, beating MHP Trabzon deputy Koray Aydın, who received 441 votes, and former MHP İzmir provincial chair Müsavvat Dervişoğlu, who earned 48 votes. A number of other potential challengers failed to obtain the signatures of a minimum of 40 delegates to qualify for the vote.
Aydın had received a considerable boost in the congress hall, as his supporters often chanted slogans “Prime Minister Koray,” and “Koray will be the head of the state.”
The party also formed its new 75-member central executive board.
Speaking at the opening of the congress, Bahçeli said the Turkish nation was determined to live together despite all assaults.
There is sociological and cultural diversity among Turkish people due to “local conditions,” but demands for recognizing Kurdish identity, education in citizens’ mother tongue and regional autonomy are efforts to divide and split the Turkish nation and homeland, Bahçeli said.
“There is no Kurdish problem in Turkey. There are games being played against Turkey and attempts at separatism within the historical process. The so-called Kurdish question is a bloody trap of imperialists. The so-called Kurdish question is a cover of divisive terrorism to hide its bloody, treacherous actions. The Turkish nation is not a mosaic,” he said.
Describing the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) as a “secret collaborator of the ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP],” Bahçeli accused the two parties of chasing after a “baseless problem,” referring to the endeavors to find a solution to the Kurdish issue.
“The AKP and its secret collaborator, the CHP, taking along the parliamentary cadre of the PKK [Peace and Democracy Party], have attempted to cause the disintegration of the Turkish nation and tried to do what the enemies of Turkey couldn’t do up until now. And they called this attempt a solution,” Bahçeli said.
“We will form the government of the Turkish nation without seeking support from beyond the ocean,” Bahçeli said. It was not clear whether he referred to the United States or to Fethullah Gülen, an influential religious leader living in the U.S.
“Beyond the ocean” is a byword for Washington in Turkish politics but in recent years, it has also widely come to be used for referring to Gülen without giving his name.
A president, prime minister and parliament speaker elected from the MHP is not a dream, Bahçeli added.
Bahçeli also rebuffed the ongoing debate on the definition of Turkish citizenship.
“Everybody bound by the Republic of Turkey is an equal and respected member of the Turkish nation, regardless of his race, language, religion or sect. Turkishness is our indispensable supra-identity,” Bahçeli said.
Aydın also slammed the government over the Kurdish question and had vowed to mobilize the MHP’s grassroots if elected. Aydın said he would launch a campaign to increase the number of party members, and promised to hold primary elections for parliamentary candidates.