“US regional policies are wrong. We will tell them their faults to their faces. This relation is not befitting an ally,” he says.
Öymen, speaking to Today’s Zaman about the CHP’s European Union and US policies, traces his party’s foreign policy to a famous speech delivered by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, in 1931.
“We do not have an adversary position against any country or union. Our policy is not that of hostility. However, we must raise our voice against efforts to disrupt the interests, unity and integrity of Turkey. Our duty will be to defend the interests of the Turkish nation to the last drop and give warnings to those that jeopardize these interests. We do not see the US as an adversary. Turkish-US relations are long-standing ones. However, the US’s Iraq policy is not the right policy. We are against their efforts to blockade the region,” he says.
For Öymen, the US policy on northern Iraq does not befit relations between allies. “Instead of acting against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which it has described as a terrorist organization, they [the US] even try to delay Turkey’s actions against the PKK, which we find hard to understand. The US has made, and continues to make, big mistakes in the region. The popularity of the US in the eyes of the Turkish nation has decreased from 60 or 70 percent to 20 percent. And this is not unique to Turkey. Anti-Americanism is on the rise around the world,” he observes.
Öymen asserts that they will be in dialogue with the US, but to tell them their mistakes. “We will talk with the US and ask them why they ignore the risk of Turkey being divided while they are so focused on keeping Iraq united. We will tell them that Turkey is not a country they can manipulate according their wishes, and that Turkey will continue to be a US ally if this is compatible with Turkey’s interests,” he stresses.
Öymen claims that after five years of AK Party rule, Turkey’s relations with the EU have gotten off track as well and therefore must be reviewed.
“It was the CHP that made Turkey’s full membership application to the EU. In principle, we are not against the EU. This would be contrary to our past. We will exert our best efforts to ensure Turkey’s full membership in the EU. However, we cannot accept a third-class membership when we are expecting to become an equal member of the EU,” he says. Öymen signals that the CHP will pursue a more outspoken and hard-bargaining policy toward the EU. “The new French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, says that Turkey is an Asian country and does not have a place in this union. But does the ruling AK Party show any reaction to his remarks? No. But we will. We will show our reactions. We will do it in order to get what we deserve,” he says.
Öymen holds EU member countries responsible for the decrease in the Turkish people’s support of Turkey’s entry into the EU. “The Turkish people have lost their hope in the EU because of the double standards they employ,” he says and adds: “We will convey the people’s reaction to them. We must seriously review the Turkish-EU relationship. We must ask people whether they want to join a union that is so against us.
“It is the AK Party who is responsible for the current state of affairs with the EU. They failed to pursue a principled policy. The slogan of the recent republic rallies, ‘Neither the US, nor the EU, but a fully independent Turkey’ is not a challenge, but a reaction. This nation does not want the government to do everything the US and EU wants. They just want an equal, fair relationship based on mutual interest.”