Okay, in a speech on Thursday, defended CHP Brussels Representative Kader Sevinç, who earlier this week criticized Johannes Swoboda, the vice president of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, for asking the CHP to support the constitutional reform package that aims to amend the Turkish Constitution and is set to go to a referendum Sept. 12. Swoboda had said in a statement that the package promotes social democratic values, and asked the CHP to support it. Sevinç's criticism of Swoboda angered the socialists, the second biggest group in the EP. Okay accused the socialists of acting as the spokespeople for the AK Party. “They should first take a good look at the legislation [the constitutional reform package] before them, compare it to European norms and then voice their opinions.”
He added that the AK Party’s campaign of disinformation in Europe has been very influential and that EP socialists were speaking without exactly understanding the content of the constitutional amendment package, and were speaking of Turkey’s progress solely based on what they had heard from the AK Party. Okay said: “A representative of the socialist group is recommending approving changes to the judiciary that are not acceptable in anyway according to EU [progress] reports, and is endorsing the package. This has nothing to do with the socialist outlook. It is not his job to endorse a mentality that destroys democracy.”
Sevinç’s letter, according to a socialist MEP who spoke on the condition of anonymity, drew a huge reaction from group members due to the “rude and baseless” arguments it employed. The same person said the group was planning to respond to the CHP after determining whether the letter had been written with the knowledge of CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. In the letter, Sevinç criticized Swoboda for asking the CHP to support the package.
The CHP, which describes itself as a social democrat party, has launched a campaign against the constitutional amendment package under its new leader Kılıçdaroğlu, declaring last week that voting down the measure during a referendum slated for Sept. 12 would benefit the country. Sevinç termed Swoboda’s statement “an obvious and scandalous attack” on the struggle of real democratic forces in Turkey.
It was unclear whether Kılıçdaroğlu was aware of the contents of the letter. However, in an interview printed in a newspaper on Friday, Kılıçdaroğlu said his party will be sending letters explaining their criticism of the constitutional amendment package to all members of the EP and to Brussels. “We will be sending Mr. Swoboda a special letter, explaining why we are saying no to these changes from the perspective of justice and for a democratic culture,” he was quoted as saying.