CHP leader Kilicdaroglu: AKP staging a civilian coup

These are excerpts from a very lengthy TV interview with main opposition party CHP leader Mr. Kemal Kilicdaroglu. PA Turkey only selected paragraphs relevant to economy and markets.

ANKARA: Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) since 2010, entered parliament as a deputy from Istanbul in 2002. Described as the founding party of modern Turkey, the CHP, which espouses secularism, pro-Europeanism and liberal democracy, contested the 2018 general election as part of a four-party Nation Alliance. Kilicdaroglu recently gave an interview to the Independent Turkish in Ankara that touched on a broad range of issues.

Q: Let me start with the proposals that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced specifically regarding social media. With the abuses directed at (Erdogan’s son-in-law and Turkish Minister of Treasury and Finance) Berat Albayrak and his wife Esra Albayrak on social media, the trial of (CHP politician) Canan Kaftancioglu for a tweet she posted seven years ago, and the targeting of (jailed opposition HDP MP) Selahattin Demirtas’s wife, the issue of social media in Turkey has taken on a completely different dimension.

A: First of all, liberal systems should not be bothered by the media because the media, on behalf of the public, keeps a check on the rulers. If they make mistakes, the media takes note of them, and if they accomplish something, the media of course also takes note of them.

The media has the ability to monitor the performance of official authorities and correct their course, and this is why the media is referred to as the Fourth Estate in democratic systems.

As for authoritarian regimes, they are annoyed by this monitoring, so they seek to silence the media. Turkey today faces this kind of truth, which has been known to us.

Now, Erdogan’s statement about social media was exactly the following: “We want these social media platforms completely shut down or controlled.” This was later deleted.

What Erdogan wants to say through “shut down” or “controlled,” and what his thoughts say, is that: ‘If these websites praise me and talk about my accomplishments, I will leave them alone, as in the case of the channels loyal to me. But if they criticize me for my unfair decisions, I will have to control them.”

Q: If an amendment were made to laws regulating the use of social media, what are these laws’ boundaries? We encounter libelous statements and trolls against the CHP and (Erdogan’s governing) Justice and Development Party (AKP). What kind of an arrangement could prevent these?

A: First of all, we are against trolls. But it is AKP who brought trolls to Turkey’s agenda. Mr Mahir (Unal) started the “green dot” social-media campaign, allowing us to see all the trolling within AKP, and it was as if they revealed their secret in this regard.

Those who have paved the way for trolling and then began to complain of them should hold themselves accountable for their action and admit their mistake — there should be a code of ethics.

There are also double standards here. If defamatory posts target the authorities, the most severe punishments are inflicted. The homes of those who write these things get raided at night, and they get detained and thrown into prison.

After a period of up to three or six months, they get released by the court. But if the defamatory posts target the opposition, the writers face no detention. We file a complaint, and the case gets lost in the corridors of the judiciary.

Q: There is considerable interest in the speech you will give at the general conference. An article recently published in the Cumhuriyet newspaper was viewed as the party’s manifesto. What are the issues you intend to emphasize?

A: We established our republic about a hundred years ago, and there was the excitement of establishing this republic. The main goal of this republic was democratization, based especially on the principle of populism.

We started a multi-party system in 1946, and in that period, there were coups, and prices were paid. After the coup attempt of July 15, 2016, a state of emergency was declared on July 20.

A de-facto civilian coup is happening in Turkey at the moment. We know this. There is pressure on the media, pressure on the judiciary, and pressure on parliament. In other words, institutions of the state that should have been independent are being held in custody in a sense.

Therefore, we have to talk about a task like crowning our republic with democracy and enter this century this way. A Republic of Turkey that has its republic crowned by democracy — this is our goal.

To achieve this goal, we want to start a process that sides with democracy, human rights, judicial independence, democratic parliamentary regime, free media and equality between women and men.

This is the main goal of our congress. How will we do this? We will do it by coming to power and we will become the government. One hundred percent I believe in this.

Q: Would you like to see Ali Babacan and Ahmet Davutoglu under the roof of the Nation Alliance?

A: These two valuable leaders will make the decisions on that matter. Naturally I have been watching their statements on television and in the media with great interest.

They are in favor of a strengthened democratic parliamentary system. And they are in favor of freedom of expression. They are in favor of freedom of press. They are also in favor of judicial independence.

Similarly, they are also in favor of the state or the government governing the state should be accountable to people and be transparent and lucid. These principles are the basic principles of the Nation Alliance that we have created in the past.

Q: We used to see Kemal Kilicdaroglu travel abroad for meetings regarding foreign policy.  Of course, that is not really possible during the pandemic, but neither did we see Kilicdaroglu holding meetings before the pandemic. Is there a reason for this? Have your priorities changed?

A: No, the agenda in Turkey was quite busy. Also, there were these consecutive elections and it is necessary to prepare for these elections. Preparing an election bulletin is not an easy job. It is a long process.

You have to meet with many respected people from different fields, sit down and discuss the draft you have prepared, and prepare the election bulletin together. Plus, while preparing this bulletin, you also have to prepare for the elections in collaboration with the party organizations.

Therefore, we didn’t have the chance to go abroad, but we have representative offices in Brussels and Washington. On behalf of us — these are official agencies — they meet with all the political parties. Our thoughts are conveyed to them.

They can have criticisms about us, they can have suggestions, they can have expectations. These are transferred to us. Plus, in today’s technological environment, these meetings can take place in more than one way.

Source:  Arab News

You can follow our  English language YouTube videos  @ REAL TURKEY:

And content at Twitter: @AtillaEng

Facebook:  Real Turkey Channel: 

Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.