Syrian opposition reaches out to CHP

Syrian opposition reaches out to CHP

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Syrian opposition reaches out to CHP

George Sabra meets with CHP delegation in Ankara. AA photo

A delegation of representatives from the Syrian opposition met with Turkey’s main opposition party Dec. 28, marking the first ever contact since the uprising erupted in 2011.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy chairs Faruk Loğoğlu and Nihat Matkap held a two-hour-long meeting with a delegation led by George Sabra, vice president of the Syrian National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, and head of Syrian National Council (SNC), at the CHP headquarters. The two sides affirmed that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a dictatorial regime.

SNC is one of the components of the Coalition, the newly created umbrella group for forces fighting to end al-Assad’s rule. Turkey recognized the coalition as legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

“We already knew that the Turkish government has been a close friend of the Syrian people for 20 months. Now, we have witnessed that the [Turkish] opposition is also a close friend,” Sabra told reporters after the meeting. “We are very pleased to hear that the CHP described the Syrian regime as a dictatorial regime,” Sabra said.

Loğoğlu, for his part, disclosed the fact that the meeting took place upon a request by the Syrian opposition and stressed that their meeting does not mean they side with the Syrian opposition. “Our meeting with the representatives of the Syrian opposition does not mean we side with them. We held this meeting to show that we side with the Syrian people.” The CHP does not accept the Syrian opposition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, Loğoğlu said. “But they represent a portion of the Syrian people, that’s why we met with them,” he said.

Loğoğlu told the press earlier that the delegation would be received by CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. When asked why Kılıçdaroğlu did not meet with them, Loğoğlu said the CHP leader was not able to receive them due to his hectic schedule.

In the past, the government, particularly Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has accused the CHP and its leader of siding with the Baath regime when CHP officials criticized the government’s foreign policy over Syria. Recently, when Turkish journalist Cüneyt Ünal, who was kept under detention in a Syrian prison for three months, was released after a CHP lawmaker met with the Syrian president, the ruling party officials blamed the CHP for supporting the al-Assad regime.

Loğoğlu reiterated that they had never sided with the al-Assad regime and its oppressive policies. “The CHP sides with neither the Syrian regime nor the Syrian opposition. We side with the whole Syrian people. We defend that a dialogue process should be launched and a bridge should be built between the regime and the opposition to secure the integrity of Syria,” Loğoğlu said.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, meanwhile, commented on the CHP’s meeting with the Syrian opposition.

“With the influence of the marginal groups in Syria, the CHP has been disconnected from the realities. I hope that this meeting helps them to understand [the realities]. By requesting such a meeting, the Syrian opposition displayed amore mature manner than [the CHP],” Davutoğlu said in an interview with Samanyolu Haber news channel.

“Until this moment, the CHP’s hand didn’t touch the Syrian people’s hand. They met neither with opposition nor with refugees. This approach of the Syrian opposition shows that they have a wider perspective than CHP,” he said.