No one can ‘inject’ me with ideas, says EP Socialist

Johannes Swoboda

July 27, 2010, Tuesday/ 16:53:00
Johannes Swoboda, the vice president of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, has responded to an accusation from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) that he was too easily influenced by the opinions of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). He said no one can “inject” him with ideas of their own, in remarks translated into Turkish.

According to a Cihan news agency report from Brussels yesterday, Swoboda commented on a continuing row between him and the CHP that started when the party wrote a letter to the EP Socialists criticizing the government’s constitutional amendment package. CHP Deputy Chairman Hakkı Suha Okay last week said Swoboda, who appealed to the CHP to support the package, was under the influence of the AK Party.

Swoboda said a letter written by CHP Brussels representative Kader Sevinç to the Socialists’ Vice Chairman Adrian Severin was “completely unacceptable both in terms of content and the way it is written.” The CHP’s letter, according to a Socialist source who spoke to the Anatolia news agency last week on condition of anonymity, drew a huge reaction from group members due to the “rude and baseless” arguments it employed.

Swoboda told Cihan that he was waiting for a letter from CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, after a Turkish daily reported that the CHP leader would himself write a letter to him explaining in detail why the CHP is opposed to the government’s amendment package. However, he also noted that the CHP Brussels representative’s letter was “not a good sign” for the new leader, who recently replaced Deniz Baykal.

Criticizing Okay’s accusation that they were speaking under the influence of the AK Party, he completely rejected the notion that the AK Party was imposing its ideas on the EP Socialists, or that they were acting like spokespeople for the AK Party government. In a Turkish translation of his statement by Cihan, he was quoted as having said: “I totally disagree that the AK Party is injecting its opinions into us and that we speak for them. I only speak my mind, no one else’s. No one can do that. When I am asked, I simply say what I think.”

The CHP’s letter was a complaint written to Severin about Swoboda, prepared shortly after the EP vice president announced his support for the package and called on the CHP to do the same.

Swoboda also expressed his opinion that Turkey needs a constructive opposition leader. In response to a question on whether he intended to reply to the CHP’s letter, he said he only responded to letters addressed to him. He also described the situation as “very odd.”

Swoboda also reiterated his support for the government’s package despite severe criticism from the CHP. He said he believed the package was inadequate, but a step in the right direction. He said he would like to see Turkey’s 10 percent election threshold in the general elections be reduced, noting that this was not included in the package. He also emphasized that he would be pleased to see the government and the opposition pass the next amendment package with a consensus.

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