We have no intention to place naysayer citizens near terrorist groups: Turkish PM

We have no intention to place naysayer citizens near terrorist groups: Turkish PM

We have no intention to place naysayer citizens near terrorist groups: Turkish PM

AA photo

The government has no intention to place those who will vote “no” in the upcoming referendum, which will decide whether the current parliamentary systems should be shifted into an executive presidency, near terrorist groups, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said. 

Yıldırım’s remarks came after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said terrorist groups are campaigning for a ‘no’ vote in the upcoming refrendum. 

“We have no intention to intervene into citizens’ preferences and place them near terrorist groups. We are talking about sensitiveness,” Yıldırım said on Feb. 19 in Munich, where he attended the Munich Security Conference.

“If there is a misunderstanding, let me make it clear in this occasion,” he said. 

Saying that the charter change is beneficial for the country and the people, he noted that the AKP “believes the solution lies in the people’s hands.”

“There is no form of governance, which has broad authority and zero responsibility, in the world. Since there can be no decision above the decision of the people, I have no doubt the changes will be accepted, but there are those who confuse people. We will make that confusion go away,” he said. 

Yıldırım, in his speech, commented on the stances of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“We said, ‘The PKK is saying no.’ They said, ‘We will do everything we can in order for a no vote to prevail.’ FETÖ and ISIL joined them. I don’t believe my citizens will stay indifferent to the campaigns of terrorist groups. I don’t believe they will make terror happy. Otherwise, it’s the decision of the people. Or else, how could we dare? PKK says, ‘If the yes vote prevails, we are done.’ They are right. That’s what we are doing,” he said, adding that they want to pass the amendments for the survival of Turkey and the lifting of the tutelage system. 

When asked if there was pressure on the preferences for the referendum, Yıldırım said “there is a double standard on that issue.”

“Reaction is also being shown to those who are saying ‘yes.’ Whether it be a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote, this country won’t be divided. Everyone will say whatever they want. The foresight of our people is broad. I’ve never seen the people making wrong decisions until today. If the politicians make wrong decisions, the people will make it right,” he said. 

Yıldırım said there is a purpose of unity between the AKP and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and that the “Yenikapı spirit” existed between the two parties, referring to the gathering of some 1 million Turkish people in Istanbul’s Yenikapı Square that rallied against the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

“The spirit was also embodied in the CHP [main opposition Republican People’s Party], but it seems the spirit has left the body slowly. There are no obstacles for CHP to become involved in this process again,” he said. 

Saying that the AKP and the MHP are two separate parties, Yıldırım noted that even if they decided to make the charter amendments together, the fact that they are different political parties should not be overlooked. 

“They will do their own campaign and we will do ours. Our discourses will be similar at the ‘yes’ meeting point. There is no obstacle to us making joint programs. If the proper conditions are formed, we can do joint programs but there is no solid event. They are not close to the idea and we are not either,” he said. 

Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 to decide whether to change the government system into an executive presidency with vastly enhanced powers to the president, or to protect the current parliamentary system.