Opposition party leaders hit at gov’t over nationalism

Opposition party leaders hit at gov’t over nationalism

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Opposition party leaders hit at gov’t over nationalism

‘You will come before this nation and will apologize open-heartedly,’ Kılıçdaroğlu says, addressing PM Erdoğan. DAILY NEWS photo

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP) took turns taking aim at the government yesterday, with the former claiming the new peace process is ultimately designed to implement a presidential system as the main opposition criticized the ruling party on nationalism.

There is a give and take between the PM and outlawed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli said. “[It’s] ‘give the presidency, take autonomy,’ ‘give the presidency, take independence,’ ‘give the presidency, take education in mother tongues,’ ‘give the presidency, take the southeast.’”

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also said the government should apologize for saying it had “trampled all kinds of nationalism.”

Öcalan, the PKK’s imprisoned leader on İmralı island, has been upgraded to the level of a counterpart for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Bahçeli said.

The optimism with which the government was publicizing the process would someday encumber the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), he said.

The judicial reform package that the government has forwarded to Parliament aimed at releasing “militants” of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) in prisons, he said, adding that the PKK would release 16 captives in response.

The MHP leader also criticized the understanding of nationalism and snubbed the prime minister’s nationalist approach in politics.

“Even if you desire, you cannot be nationalistic,” Bahçeli said.

Recalling the Khojaly killings of Feb. 25, 1992, which took place when the armed forces of Armenia attacked the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly, Bahçeli bitterly criticized President Abdullah Gül for conveying a congratulatory message to Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan after the latter’s recent re-election.

Elsewhere, addressing his AKP parliamentary group meeting, Erdoğan also commemorated the Khojaly killings, underlining that Armenians had still not been called to account for the killings.

“Both our Azeri brothers and we will not forget this massacre, which took place in recent history, and we will not let it be forgotten,” Erdoğan said.

‘Erdoğan owes an apology’

Kılıçdaroğlu reiterated yesterday his call on Erdoğan to repeat his remarks about “trampling all kinds of nationalism” when he heads to his hometown, the Black Sea province of Rize, which is known for its strong nationalist and conservative tendencies.

“You will come before this nation and will apologize open-heartedly,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, addressing his party’s parliamentary group. “No to politics based on ethnic identity and faith. We said this many times. But if you are saying that you are trampling all kinds of nationalism, then stop there, you cannot say that,” he said.

During a visit to Mardin on Feb. 17, Erdoğan said: “We are a government who trampled all kinds of nationalism.”

Addressing his party’s parliamentary group on the same day as the CHP leader, Erdoğan said he would say the same things he said in Mardin also in Rize. “I’ll go to Rize soon. He should follow me attentively; I will say [what I said in Mardin] in Rize, too.”