AKP Insistence to Discuss Issue on Ataturk Anniversary Met with Harsh Criticism, Plot Accusations
ANKARA (Hurriyet)—The anniversary of the death of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, was overshadowed by a heated debate Tuesday in Parliament as the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) attempted to discuss its Kurdish initiative to end Turkey’s 25-year conflict with its Kurdish minority.
The AKP last week submitted a motion to Parliament requesting a discussion of its Kurdish initiative with opposition parties in Parliament on Tuesday.
Opposition parties reacted negatively to the chosen date, saying parliamentary discussion of the Kurdish initiative would likely overshadow commemoration activities for the founder of the Turkish Republic, who died on November 10, 1938.
Despite the opposition, the AKP brought the issue to Parliament on Tuesday for discussion. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) submitted a motion to Parliament asking for the Kurdish move to be discussed another day and tension inside the hall started to escalate.
Prior to the session, CHP leader Deniz Baykal held his party’s parliamentary group meeting and harshly criticized the AKP’s insistence on the Nov. 10 date, as well as the Kurdish initiative in general.
“We are witness to the first time in Turkish history that a plot is being staged and implemented by the ruling government against the accomplishments of the Republic. They are staging this plot in the name of developing democracy,” Baykal said, adding that the AKP’s inability to accept secularism has led to a constitutional conflict.
“We shouldn’t let ambushes wear down the Republic. We should oppose the ethnic-oriented discriminatory efforts,” Baykal said, stressing the importance of preserving the principles, values and legacy of Ataturk.
Baykal also criticized the AKP’s insistence on discussing the Kurdish move on the anniversary of Ataturk’s death and said such a move implied a kind of veiled plot against the founder’s accomplishments. “I don’t know whether the Nov. 10 date is coincidental, but it is a kind of contempt against the Turkish nation to discuss the issue on such a date,” the CHP leader said. “We should not forget such initiatives if they are demonstrated in a challenging way.”
Mehmet Şandır, MHP parliamentary group leader, called the AKP’s move discriminatory.
“It is not right for such an issue to be discussed on the anniversary of Atatürk’s death,” Sandir said. “The AKP insisted on this day and it is very unfortunate to bring the issue to Parliament on such a date when the flags are lowered to half-mast. Who are you challenging?”
AKP Kahramanmaras deputy Avni Dogan criticized the opposition’s approach and his speech sparked tension in the parliamentary hall. “The AKP says it brought a project of democracy, peace and unity. Today is not a day for mourning. You [the opposition], however, say Ataturk didn’t die but lives in our hearts but also refuse to discuss the Kurdish initiative saying that today is a day for mourning,” Dogan said.
“Kemalism doesn’t mean a deadlock and it anticipates making the terrorists come down from the mountains,” Dogan said as he accused the opposition parties of applauding the military coup plotters.
His words sparked tension and CHP’s Kemal Anadol and MHP’s Mehmet Sandır reacted strongly.
Taking the floor, Hakki Suha Okay, CHP’s parliamentary group deputy leader, also criticized the AKP’s decision to discuss the Kurdish move. “You [AKP] couldn’t make the terrorists come down from the mountains. You welcomed them with a state ceremony and you chose Nov. 10 on purpose. It is a challenge and taking revenge from Ataturk!’” he said.