ANKARA—Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has criticized the leaders of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) over their recent statements on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli, indicating a widening divide between the ruling government and the opposition.
“The behavior of the two party chairmen obliged me to ask whether or not they read books. One of them [HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtas] made an insult as he argued that the Ottoman state was the puppet of Germany at the time. He therefore called those who were fighting against imperialists at that time ‘puppets,’” Davutoglu said in Ankara on Friday.
The Turkish prime minister said those who label patriots as puppets “would not hesitate to become the spokespersons of imperialists today,” in harsh criticism directed at Demirtas.
Davutoglu also targeted CHP head Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who lashed out at the head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) for not mentioning the name of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk during prayers naming the martyrs and veterans of Gallipoli. Slamming the omission, Kilicdaroglu described Diyanet head Mehmet Gormez as an “ungrateful person.”
“I address the head of the main opposition. In which country can a politician call a cleric ‘ungrateful’? Those who use these words in fact show their own ungratefulness,” Davutoglu said in response.
“I don’t want to set examples, but I would ask whether a politician in Greece can do the same for the archbishop in Athens – or in Russia toward the Moscow Patriarchate, or anywhere in Europe toward the Pope – and still continue to be seen in public. The affairs of the state and religion are two different things, but they [the opposition] must learn to be respectful of religion,” he added.