PM rebuffs boycott, says Parliament will work despite absent deputies

TODAY’S ZAMAN


Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an addresses newly elected members of parliament from his ruling AK Party, during a meeting at his party headquarters in Ankara.
“Whether the opposition comes to Parliament or not, there is no legal obstacle preventing Parliament from functioning. They will see how parliamentary commissions work,” a defiant Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an said on Thursday, condemning the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) refusal to take the parliamentary oath.
“We will continue to work as scheduled. The opposition was supposed to take the oath in order to overcome both the problems of the country and their own problems. But they did not. … The leader of the main opposition party says parliamentary commissions will not work without them in Parliament. He is unaware of the parliamentary procedure. Esteemed [CHP leader Kemal] K?l?çdaro?lu, the commissions will work naturally. And you will see how,” Erdo?an said during his Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) first parliamentary group meeting after the June 12 general elections.
The AK Party secured almost 50 percent of the national vote on June 12 and won a third consecutive term in power. The CHP, which won 26 percent in the elections, and the BDP, which had 36 of its independent candidates elected, refused to be sworn in on Tuesday in protest of court decisions barring some of their newly elected deputies, who are currently suspects in various trials, from serving in Parliament.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) also has a rejected deputy — retired Gen. Engin Alan, a suspect in the investigation of an alleged coup plot dubbed Sledgehammer, but its deputies participated in the oath-taking ceremony.

“Deputies who did not take the parliamentary oath are unaware of the separation of power. Turkey is not a banana republic. Those who nominated [deputy] candidates although they knew the probable results [that they would not be allowed to take their seats in Parliament] ought to respect the decisions of the judiciary. The problem [with jailed deputies] is all of Turkey’s and a solution is inevitable.

The opposition parties should come up with plausible suggestions for solution. No solution will be reached with reactions or boycotts,” the prime minister stated.

The CHP is frustrated with two court decisions not to release CHP deputies Mehmet Haberal and Mustafa Balbay, currently in prison as suspects in the trial of a clandestine gang called Ergenekon, whose members are charged with plotting to overthrow the government. The decisions prevented the two from joining the oath-taking ceremony for newly elected deputies held on Tuesday. The CHP deputies attended the oath-taking ceremony, but they did not swear in.

The BDP refused to participate in the ceremony in protest of a court’s refusal to release six independent deputies who were endorsed by the BDP in the elections and are currently in jail as suspects in the trial of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organization for groups connected with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The prime minister implied that the CHP and the BDP abused the authority vested in them by their voters in the elections by boycotting Parliament. “What will they tell the nation? Will they tell them that they did not go to Parliament and declined to make laws in line with their voters’ demands?” he asked.

Erdo?an also said it is a grave mistake for CHP leader K?l?çdaro?lu to both complain about the politicization of the judiciary and to ask the government to intervene in the judiciary to solve the crisis stemming from jailed deputies.

“They are saying the prime minister should solve the issue. What will he do? Will he call the judges and give instructions? We know this happened in the past. Turkey is a country ruled by law. Those who put the blame on the AK Party for court decisions are those whose past habits are now recurring. The judiciary might have received orders and instructions from them during their term in government and we know well that this happened. But, the judiciary does not receive any order or instruction from anyone during the AK Party rule,” the prime minister said.

However, in an immediate response K?l?çdaro?lu said he had never requested that Erdo?an call a judge or intervene in the ongoing cases.

Erdo?an also recalled that a closure case was filed against the AK Party when the party held 65 percent of the seats in Parliament and that journalist Balbay, one of CHP’s jailed deputies, wrote then that “the judiciary also reflects the nation’s will.” “Is not the judiciary, which then represented the nation’s will, now representing the nation’s will today?” he asked.

The prime minister called on all political parties to respect the will and decisions of the nation. He said his AK Party has never and will not ever bow to a power that considers itself superior to the will of the nation.

“The nation’s will is sacred to us. We have never considered any power superior to the will of the nation. We have reached the point we are at now through a struggle with [military] tutelage and political engineering. We acted with common sense even when judicial bodies overstepped their authority. We stood against much injustice. Some tried to deal blows to the stability of the country with plots and ugly scenarios. We did not bow to any of them. We fought against injustice within the limits of law. We did not violate the Constitution. We did not send our voters to the streets [for protests.] We paid heavy prices for Turkey to reach universal values of the law. But I am sorry, we have always been left alone in our struggle,” he noted.

Deputy PM hopeful CHP will take oath soon

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Ar?nç also commented on the CHP’s parliamentary boycott and expressed hope that the main opposition party will revise its decision and decide to take the oath soon. “I do not think that it [the boycott] will last long. I do not want to provoke the CHP with my remarks. I am putting myself in their shoes and empathizing with them. It would be most appropriate if they decide to go to Parliament on Monday and take their oaths,” he stated on a live TV program on Wednesday.

Ar?nç defied the CHP’s challenges, and said the main opposition party will not attain its “objectives” with threats or boycotts. With challenges, Ar?nç was referring to the recent remarks of CHP deputy ?sa Gök, who said the CHP will make the AK Party “kneel down.”

“Who will they make kneel? Does the AK Party have any share of responsibility in what has occurred? What did the AK Party do to result in what we are experiencing today? It was the CHP who nominated the candidates and it is the CHP whose deputies were rejected by courts. They may be frustrated with the courts or criticize judges. But the AK Party has no responsibility in this,” he said.

Ar?nç in addition expressed his personal opinion that the jailed deputies should be released from prison and allowed to take their seats in Parliament. He said millions of people voted for the candidates and elected them deputies in the elections. “Yet, the law and courts have ordered the country. If the courts insist on their decisions, then there is nothing we can do,” he added.

In the meantime, journalist ?amil Tayyar, who was elected a deputy from the AK Party, argued that the “CHP is under occupation, and its leader has been held hostage,” implying that the CHP was forced to boycott Parliament due to pressure from external forces.

“The CHP was expected to contribute to parliamentary efforts to draft a new constitution. But they did not lend the expected support. They were trapped. The CHP is under occupation, and K?l?çdaro?lu has been held hostage. As far as I know K?l?çdaro?lu, he would not have made such a decision if he were acting on his free will,” he said, and claimed that K?l?çdaro?lu now regrets his decision to boycott Parliament. ?stanbul Today’s Zaman


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