The main opposition party leader criticized the government on Wednesday for dropping the ball on EU-oriented democratic reforms in recent years while flagrantly disregarding the suggestions raised by the EU Commission's progress report on Turkey's harmonization with the EU values and standards.
“The EU process was completely halted. The government is culpable for the stalled reforms,” Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told a group of reporters over a breakfast.
“The EU has always been a bipartisan issue in this country. The CHP always supported this process. While we are listening to the criticism raised in EU progress report, the government is throwing the report in the garbage,” he stated, recalling the incident in which a ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) politician and head of Parliament's Constitution Commission Burhan Kuzu threw the EU Commission report into a trash can during a television interview in October.
The CHP leader noted that criticisms against the government abroad are growing, saying that the CHP complaints in Turkey were being echoed in foreign capitals. “The perception of the CHP abroad has changed and we are working to gradually change the perception at home as well,” Kılıçdaroğlu underlined, adding that the CHP turned a new page with his leadership, embracing everyone in Turkey.
“The CHP is defending freedoms, reforms and democracy,” the CHP leader exclaimed.
Kılıçdaroğlu is scheduled to make a visit to China early in January with stopovers in Beijing, Shanghai and Xinjiang at the invitation of the Chinese Communist Party. He said he will be visiting Iraq, Egypt and a number of EU capitals soon to explain his party's views on Turkey's domestic challenges.
Pointing out the troubled relations of Turkey with its neighbors, the opposition leader said the government has failed more in the foreign policy arena than any others. “This foreign minister [Ahmet Davutoğlu] needs to be dismissed,” he remarked, recalling his earlier description of Davutoğlu as “a person with no caliber.” “That depiction of him is the lightest term I can find,” he said.
Asked what he thinks of illegal wiretapping claims raised by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said last week that four bugging devices were found in the office of his Ankara home, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said these are serious charges and needs to be investigated thoroughly.
“I find the government's approach toward these illegal wiretappings to be cynical. After all, no steps taken by the government when reporters were wiretapped illegally by government officials,” he criticized.
The main opposition leader was referring to embarrassing revelations earlier this year that the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) tapped the phones of several journalists, using court orders in which the journalists were only mentioned by their foreign codenames. The phones of former Taraf Editor-in-Chief Ahmet Altan, former Deputy Editor-in-Chief Yasemin Çongar, Taraf columnist Markar Esayan, former Taraf columnist Amberin Zaman and journalist and academic Professor Mehmet Altan were tapped by MİT between 2008 and 2009.
“What reactions did the prime minister have to these? What did the AKP government do with officials who deceived judges in obtaining warrants?” Kılıçdaroğlu asked.
He also accused the government of not exposing those who illegally videotaped former CHP leader Deniz Baykal in an affair and later posted the video online in May 2010, leading to Baykal's resignation. “If I was in the government, I would have investigated and found out who did this. The government's responsibility is to expose culprits of crime,” Kılıçdaroğlu noted.
The CHP leader again raised the claim that Turkey's spy agency MİT also has wiretaps on himself, his family members and some deputies from his party. The CHP leader previously complained that the prime minister confirmed in a sense his claims of wiretapping when he once said his ruling AK Party was aware even of how Kılıçdaroğlu breathes.
Commenting on violent protests held by a group of students at Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) that targeted a visit to the campus by the prime minister last week in the capital, Kılıçdaroğlu said he does not condone the violence but said the CHP stands by freedom of speech and the freedom to protest.
“If you enter a campus with 3,500 police officers, you can't predict what will happen,” he remarked, blaming the incidents on the government's overreaction and disproportionate use of force.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had attended a ceremony at the university on Dec. 18 to watch the broadcast launch of Göktürk-2, Turkey's second locally manufactured Earth observation satellite, from China. A group of leftist students protested the prime minister's visit to ODTÜ and attempted to prevent his entry into the university.