Main opposition party opposes sports agreement with Saudi Arabia

April 05, 2012, Thursday/ 15:17:00

A government-sponsored agreement on cooperation in sports between Turkey and Saudi Arabia has met objections in the Turkish Parliament from the main opposition party.

During a debate of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies took a position against the Agreement of Cooperation on Youth and Sports between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, saying the agreement does not make any reference to women.

Four committee members from the CHP -- Osman Faruk Loğoğlu, Aytuğ Atıcı, Mehmet Ali Ediboğlu, Faik Tunay -- have declared that the CHP is opposed to the agreement. They noted that women are specifically mentioned in agreements of this sort. “As this is contrary to the spirit and ethics of sports and is in conflict with both the idea of the secularism of our republic and gender equality, we are opposed to the agreement,” the CHP members declared in their written dissenting opinion.

Nevertheless, the agreement was approved by the committee with a majority vote on March 29 and sent to the General Assembly for final debate before its likely approval.

In response to the criticism, other members of the committee and representatives of the government have explained that no agreements by Turkey in the area of youth and sport contain any discriminatory articles, and that women as well as men are included in the agreement given that it contains no reference to gender.

The agreement, which was singed in Riyadh in 2009, aims to further bilateral relations at the level of sports. As per the agreement, the two countries agree to exchange publications, documents, delegations and so on and to organize joint sporting events. Cooperation will be encouraged at various levels as well as the exchange of know-how.

Both countries promise to pave the way for their national teams to visit the other country, and contact will be encouraged between the various sports clubs of both countries. The agreement, which has already been legally adopted by the Saudi side, is expected to go into effect upon the approval of the Turkish Parliament in this legislative session.

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