Turkish Parliament debates regime on 94th birthday

Turkish Parliament debates regime on 94th birthday

Turkish Parliament debates regime on 94th birthday

The special session also had its special guests: Children watched the debate from the visitors lodge. AA Photo

Controversy over “sovereignty” prevailed on the 94th anniversary of the foundation of the Turkish Parliament April 23, with angry accusations traded by political leaders in their speeches in the General Assembly.

The leaders of all political parties in Parliament gave speeches on the occasion of the April 23 celebrations, during which National Sovereignty and Children’s Day was marked.

In his speech, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the opposition of collaborating with “foreign powers,” stirring angry responses.

 “We have observed how social media can turn into a tool for attacks against the national will in the hands of ill-intentioned people. We have observed how voice recordings, fabricated recordings and tapes to blackmail people through violations of their privacy targeted Parliament. What a shame to observe political parties allying and cooperating with foreign circles, attacking Parliament just as they did numerous times in the past,” Erdoğan said in his April 23 address to Parliament.

This prime minister’s characteristically strident words stirred responses from both main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lawmakers.

“These words were not in accordance with the spirit of this day,” said Engin Altay, the deputy parliamentary group leader of the CHP.

Erdoğan also again slammed the community of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen without directly naming it, referring instead to what he calls the “parallel state.”

“We are observing how gangs and illegal structures intend to attack the national will,” he said, recalling how a confidential Foreign Ministry meeting was leaked through social media.

In his own address to Parliament, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu underlined that simply having a majority in Parliament was not tantamount to representing the entire national will.

“The understanding that ‘I can do whatever I want as I have the electoral majority’ is not compatible with the concept of national sovereignty, because this is not a concept based on the number of votes,” he said.

Kılıçdaroğlu also said the current 10 percent election threshold prevented a healthy representation of the people’s will in Parliament.

The CHP leader said he wanted to dedicate this year’s April 23 celebrations to all Turkish youngsters who were killed at the hands of security forces during last year’s Gezi Park protests. He particularly referenced Berkin Elvan, who succumbed to his injuries on March 11 after 269 days in a coma after being hit by a police tear-gas canister last June.