Turkey should be part of peace, not war: Main opposition CHP head
ISTANBULFollowing the U.S. airstrike on a Syrian regime chemical weapons depot, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said on April 7 that Turkey should be “part of peacemaking, not war.”
“The use of chemical weapons is not something that can just be palmed off by bombing, the real culprits need to be found and punished,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Speaking to newspaper editor-in-chiefs, the CHP head said “experts and independent authorities” needed to find the real culprits of the use of chemical weapons on Tuesday in the Syrian town of Idlib.
“The trial of the real culprits is important so that other people, groups and states do not attempt to do the same,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Kılıçdaroğlu criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statements that Turkey will “do its part,” following U.S. President Donald Trump’s strong words against the Syrian regime, accused of using chemical weapons.
“What is our part? Are we going to move after receiving instructions? Turkey’s weight in the Middle East has to a large extent been lost. We would have had weight if we had played the role of bringing the sides together to secure peace. We never want Turkey to be part of a war in the region. Turkey needs to assume an active role to construct peace,” he said, stressing that the government needs to think about the negative consequences of war in the region and calling on all sides for restraint and dialogue.
Kılıçdaroğlu also commented on Erdoğan’s statements that Turkey could stage new military operations in Syria and Iraq.
“Those governing Turkey talk a lot but they don’t get the chance to implement what they say. They said we would enter Manbij. Did they do it? No. Were they allowed to do it? No. They said we would go to Raqqa. Did they go? No. They want to enter the region under the wing of one power. But the problem is that both of the two big powers in the region do not want Turkey,” he said.
‘Turkey has become a semi-open prison’
The CHP head also spoke about domestic developments ahead of the April 16 referendum on shifting the country to an executive presidential system, saying Turkey has become a “semi-open prison.”
“We have hundreds of examples to prove that our people in Turkey live in a semi-open prison. A concept of collective guilt, which is non-existent in universal law, has been created. We are starting to have a legal system where a prosecutor is able to seize the passports of a suspect’s wife and children, preventing them from going abroad and treating them as guilty too,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu also criticized conflicting rulings taken recently by courts, following last week’s court ruling for the release of some 21 suspects in a case into the media structure of the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), accused of orchestrating the July 2016 failed coup attempt. Shortly after that release ruling, another court reversed the decision and ruled for the continuation of the arrests.
“What this means is that no judge can take a decision to release those under arrest or detention without the consent of the political authority. This is just like Hitler’s Germany,” he said, blasting the decision to temporarily dismiss the court board and prosecutor who ordered the release.
“Is justice being served according to reactions coming from the public or according to the rule of law? The rule of law needs to be paramount. This is harming justice in Turkey,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
The CHP leader also said the essential elements of the constitutional changes have not been adequately discussed in the public. “The ruling party is not explaining at campaign rallies why people should vote yes. The main referendum subject in the campaign rallies is Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, as if I was the one asking for the referendum,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu said his party expected a high turnout in the referendum, noting that experts had told them that a higher turnout would work in favor of the “No” side.
“We are encouraging everyone to go to the ballot box. However, we are concerned about displaced people in the southeast,” he said.
During widespread clashes in 2015 and 2016 between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the security forces in southeastern Turkey, a number of towns and districts saw huge destruction, displacing an estimated 500,000 people. The vast majority of these are not registered in the places where they have settled and will thus not be able to vote in the referendum.
“We do not have precise information about how many people have been displaced and whether they are able to register where they currently reside. We do not know whether they will be able to cast their votes,” said Kılıçdaroğlu, while vowing that the CHP will take all necessary measures to guarantee the security of ballot boxes.