Turkish leaders use April 23 to deliver messages on their primary issues
AA PhotoAs the entire country celebrated National Sovereignty and Children’s Day on April 23 with various activities, the day which has a highly symbolic importance for the foundation of the Republic of Turkey offered a unique opportunity for political leaders to deliver messages on their primary issues.
Ceremonial celebrations in the Turkish capital city of Ankara began with a visit to Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Later in the day, parliament convened with a special agenda dedicated to the day which marked the opening of the first national assembly of the country on April 23, 1920, amid the War of Independence, and which later declared the founding of the Republic of Turkey on Oct. 29, 1923.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair İdris Baluken took to the rostrum respectively after Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek opened the special session.
The mass killings of Anatolian Armenians in 1915, which will be commemorated on its 100th anniversary on April 24 with Armenia readying to host world leaders in Yerevan to honor the victims of killings which it terms as “genocide,” was a key theme of the speeches delivered in parliament.
Speaking on recent declarations by world leaders labeling the 1915 events “genocide,” Çiçek said it was, “a slandering and defamation campaign against the Turkish nation launched by the Armenian diaspora and powers behind them.”
He warned that such moves to recognize the killings as “genocide” by individuals or parliaments might pave the way to “discrimination and a discourse of hatred” against Turkish citizens, particularly those living abroad.
Avoiding specific names, Davutoğlu blamed Western countries for remaining silent in the face of brutalities being committed in Yemen, Libya, Syria and Africa.
“They are committing new hate crimes by exploiting grievances experienced in this geography 100 years ago,” Davutoğlu said.
Kılıçdaroğlu preferred to highlight the vitality of separation of powers in a democratic country.
“A mentality which regards separation of powers as a stumbling block casts a shadow over both our democracy and the reputation of the parliament,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, calling for a process to be launched which would strengthen the parliamentary system through amending the current legislation, which is a legacy of the Sept. 12, 1980, coup d’état.
Bahçeli also referred to regime change debates, which are mainly based on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s desire for a presidential system and supported by the AKP, which was founded by Erdoğan.
“The proposal to change the regime and system is intended to be a civilian coup against the Republic of Turkey and it is at the same time an attempt to cut the parliament dead,” Bahçeli said.
For his part, Baluken praised the spirit of the founding parliament, which he said was based on an understanding that regards diversity as richness.
He touched upon the infamous 10 percent parliamentary threshold, which his party is currently challenging by running for the June 7 parliamentary elections as a party.
“Having in force a 10 percent threshold, which is formed in order to keep all kinds of opposition dynamics – [in the person of] different identities, faiths and classes living in this country – out of parliament is a big source of shame,” Baluken said.