Putin-Assad meet manifestation of AKP foreign policy failure: CHP leader
Rifat Başaran - ORDU
DHA photoThe Moscow meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was a manifestation of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s foreign policy failure, Turkey’s main opposition leader has said.
“That photograph [of the meeting between Putin and al-Assad] is an announcement of the failure of the foreign policy assumed by the AKP government,” Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said on Oct. 23, underlining he had repeatedly warned the government to balance their policies in the region.
“Now, in 2015, Turkey has become [stuck] in the Middle East quagmire and they cannot get out of it.
Supposedly we would be the game-setter in the Middle East. Let alone being the game-setter, we have turned into the whipping boy of the Middle East,” Kılıçdaroğlu said while en route from Ankara to the Black Sea province of Ordu, where he gathered with supporters of his party in the run up to the Nov. 1 snap elections.
According to the CHP leader, if the AKP government had heeded their calls in 2012, a peace conference on Syria which was held in Geneva could have been held in Turkey instead, helping the country preserve its reputation in the Middle East. He was referring to the international peace conference held in the Swiss city in 2012 which produced the Geneva I agreement, laying the groundwork for a transitional government as an appropriate framework.
“Turkey could then compete with the U.S., Russia and Iran and could be the most important country to make a contribution to the resolution of the issue. But this train was missed. They cannot do anything but talk,” he said.
“To have this situation be corrected, the [Turkish government’s] foreign policy needs to make a 180-degree change, but not a 360-degree change,” Kılıçdaroğlu also said, in an apparent reference to a gaffe recently made by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
In a bid to rebut claims that the government’s failure to crack down on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was responsible for the Oct. 10 double suicide bombings in Ankara that killed at least 102 people, Davutoğlu had said on Oct. 15, “There is a 360-degree, not 180-degree, difference between the Islam we defend and what Daesh [ISIL] has on its mind.”
Turkey backed al-Assad’s regime until the outbreak of civil war in 2011, after which it switched its support to rebels fighting to overthrow him. Since then it has insisted the Syrian president must go.
Kılıçdaroğlu’s remarks came on the same day Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu was in Vienna to participate in a key summit along with his counterparts from Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States to revive a moribund effort to end Syria’s civil war.
Earlier this week, Davutoğlu had said any political transition period in Syria must be part of a “formula” which guaranteed al-Assad’s departure as soon as possible.
“The focus should not be on a transition period with [al-]Assad, but on a formula that will see him go and such a formula should be implemented as soon as possible,” he said.
Compliant over pro-gov’t media
While delivering a speech during a visit to the town of Ünye in Ordu on Oct. 23, Kılıçdaroğlu complained of a biased approach by pro-government broadcasters and public broadcaster TRT.
“They have this channel, A Haber. I made a proposal to them to appear on their television channel. [I said] no matter which journalist you [A Haber] invite, I’ll respond to their questions, no matter what the question is,” he said, referring to a private pro-government television channel. “They are scared; they don’t let me appear. TRT is broadcasting thanks to taxes you paid. The law says it is impartial. They are sparing two-and-a-half hours to a political leader and they are not sparing even two-and-a-half minutes to us. Why? So that citizens could not learn about the truth,” he said.