Syria standoff triggers domestic political row

Syria standoff triggers domestic political row

Syria standoff triggers domestic political row

‘Are you from the Baath Party of Syria or the Republican People’s Party [CHP] of Turkey? Which one are you?,’ PM Erdoğan says referring to Kılıçdaroğlu’s words. AA photo

Ongoing tension between Turkey and Syria, following the downing of a Turkish jet by Syria, has fueled a political row between the government and the main opposition party, with each harshly criticizing the other over the country’s foreign policy.

“[Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu] criticized his [country’s] government rather than the dictator regime in Syria. Is such a thing possible? Are you from the Baath Party of Syria or the Republican People’s Party [CHP] of Turkey? Which one are you?,” asked Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is his address to his Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) congress in Erzurum, in the eastern Anatolia.

Erdoğan was referencing Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the head of the CHP, who had slammed the government’s foreign policy and argued that the downing of the jet was a result of this policy.

“I told them to ask whatever they might have on their minds during that meeting. The only thing they asked was whether our pilots were alive or not. They didn’t pose any other serious questions,” Erdoğan said. High-ranking generals and the foreign minister were also present at the meeting, and everyone present was given all of the information available, Erdoğan said.

Baath party accusation
“However, after the meeting they went out and began giving contradictory statements.” Kılıçdaroğlu has no notion of national values and is still hoping to make political gains by attacking the country’s military and government, according to Erdoğan, who said the main opposition party is in the service of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“A responsible political leader would not call his country a scapegoat. He could not. We are not going to take foreign policy lessons from the leader of the CHP. If he is looking around for a scapegoat, he had better look in the mirror. Those who cannot locate Damascus on the map cannot instruct us on foreign policy,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan accused Kılıçdaroğlu of using language that would please the al-Assad regime and of identifying the CHP with the Baath Party in Syria, saying that this was proof of the poor vision of the social democratic party. “The CHP’s foreign policy vision has always been like this,” he said, adding that the party’s approach to the killing of nine Turkish citizens aboard the Mavi Marmara at the hands of Israeli commandos was not very different.

The CHP defended Israel at that time and criticized the AKP government for cutting ties with the country, Erdoğan said. “They have never opted for an active foreign policy. They have closed their eyes to cruelties, unfairness and unlawfulness in the region and sometimes have even supported them.”
Kılıçdaroğlu has tried to use balanced language when discussing the ongoing crisis between Turkey and Syria from the outset. He condemned the downing of the jet, and said Turkey should respond adequately to such an offensive, while criticizing the government’s general policy on the Syrian crisis.