Turkish opposition leader responds to criticisms over stance in Kurdish issue
Opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli. DHA photoOpposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli said taking to the streets and meeting with people in squares were different things, in response to criticism of his remarks during his recent İzmir visit.
“The street and square are different things,” Bahçeli told reporters after he returned from İzmir on April 21. “When the MHP starts a meeting process with people, then it’s described as the MHP taking to the streets. This is a very incorrect statement. The streets are dark and open 24 hours. Squares are areas where one meets with people within certain hours,” said Bahçeli.
Bahçeli’s criticism came after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks on April 19 about Bahçeli’s attitude toward his party’s young grassroots.
“We can never allow terror to take over the streets when one [terrorist group] is leaving. We will not allow Bahçeli to call on youth to take to the streets, as his ground is sliding because the terror is coming to an end. Devlet Bahçeli should know this well. Those who try to return to post-1980s scenes today, they will pay the highest price before the judiciary. We will not allow the emergence of bandits in the cities when the terror in the mountains is coming to an end,” Erdoğan said on April 19, in a direct criticism of Bahçeli’s recent remarks on the ongoing process on the Kurdish issue.
During his İzmir rally on April 20, Bahçeli also criticized the 63 “Wise Persons” selected by the government to win public support for the process. “The PKK’s ambassadors, half intellectuals, terror peddlers, blood barons, death mongers, the immoral who speak seditiously of ‘solutions’ and ‘peace’ should fear this noise. These 63 should fear. They should quickly stop creating dissension,” Bahçeli said.
During a rally in the northwestern province of Bursa late in March, Bahçeli answered MHP supporters’ slogans of “We will attack and we will die if you say so,” saying, “Don’t worry, that time will come.”
On April 21 ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy leader Mehmet Ali Şahin expressed his discomfort at hearing this slogan at Bahçeli’s İzmir rally and also accused Bahçeli of making the wise people targets.
“People chant at the rally, ‘We will attack and we will die if you say so.’ For whom will you give instructions to attack?” Şahin asked. He also said Bahçeli was responsible if anything happened to the 63 wise people because of his remarks in İzmir.