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Entries in Deniz Baykal (4)


Turkey Analysis: Is the Opposition Party Changing?

Joost Lagendijk, a former Member of the European Parliament for the Greens who served as joint chairman of the Turkey-EU Parliamentarians delegation, has written about the "change" in the Republican People's Party (CHP), following the election of Kemal Kilicdaroglu as party leader. In his article, Lagendijk questions whether the party is giving signals of social democracy which would push the Erdogan Government towards European Union reforms:

Few people in this country realize how many European friends of Turkey would like to see the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, transform itself into a genuine, European-style, social democratic party and challenge the ruling conservatives.

Turkey Inside Line: A Political Warning from Business; Kurdish Connections

Some cherish this wish because they do not like the Justice and Development Party, or AKP’s, blend of Islamic values and neo-liberal economic ideas. Most supporters of a CHP renaissance simply think it would be better for Turkey and the AKP if there were a progressive, pro-reform and pro-EU party in Parliament that would push Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to be more courageous and forthcoming on reforms that will make Turkey a more democratic country and, by doing so, bring it closer to EU accession.

Is the replacing of Deniz Baykal, the ultimate status-quo defender, with Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the man who does his utmost to appear as a man of the people, the moment so many in Europe have been waiting for?

The question of whether or not last weekend’s explosion of hope and excitement at the CHP party convention signals a return to the good old social democratic days of the era of former Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit will be answered negatively by most analysts. They believe it does not make any sense to compare the 1970s to the present political landscape in Turkey. On top of that, they claim the CHP never was, in fact, a real social democratic party and that academic research shows there are simply not enough social democrats in Turkey to get more than 20 percent of the vote at the ballot box.

Even if we take these points for granted, however, the question remains whether we will witness a serious attempt to reposition the CHP under the new leadership.

In that sense, parts of Kılıçdaroğlu’s speech have created some hope. His switch in rhetoric from state and secularism to people and poverty went over well. This is what many in Turkey and Europe would expect from a social democrat. But what about all the other controversial issues that have split Turkish society and politics for so many years now? Why was he so conspicuously silent on the Kurdish question and refuse to go beyond the old CHP clichés on the EU?

Let’s stop here for a moment. Is it reasonable to expect Kılıçdaroğlu to radically change all CHP policies from one day to the next? Let’s not forget that the new CHP leader was a member of the Baykal team that came up with so many of these dead-end proposals in the first place. The man is, in all probability, not a closet social democrat in heart and soul who, finally freed from his shackles, will now fundamentally change the CHP in one big move. The best bet seems to be to see him as a man who has understood that continued polarization will lead the CHP nowhere and a change in style and an adjustment of some policies are therefore necessary. I am not so sure whether he already knows which ones.

Based on his personal background, I expect Kılıçdaroğlu to prepare the CHP in the short term for a compromise with the AKP on the Alevi and Kurdish questions. Apart from his private motives, electoral considerations will force the CHP to try and regain some ground among these millions of voters. But in order to keep his credibility among diehard CHP voters, I think he will stick to the party’s rejection of radical constitutional change and to the ambiguous attitude toward the EU – saying you are in favor and then voting against all reforms that are needed to get there.

It might well be that this combination of change and continuity will convince some that the CHP has become a different party under Kılıçdaroğlu’s leadership. I am afraid many others will position the new CHP leader as stuck somewhere in between a version of Baykal lite and the real reformer many in Turkey and in Europe would like him to be.

Turkey Inside Line: It's Not Baykal in Video!; Kilicdaroglu Steps In; A UN "Well Done" to Turkey

It is Not Baykal: On Thursday, the National Criminal Bureau released the findings of their enquiry into a video clip allegedly showing the former leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Deniz Baykal, having sex with a party deputy, Nesrin Baytok.

The representative of the Bureau, Uğur Kurtulan, said that the man in the clip is not Baykal and the woman is not Baytok. He added that the head of Baykal in the first part of the clip was produced through a montage and that the man in the second part is thinner and taller than the one in the first part.

Turkey Inside Line: Latest War between Government and Opposition; New Era in Turkish-Greek Relations

Baykal's lawyer said: "It is clear that a victimhood is constituted after a video clip in which even the colours of socks and ties do not match. What is the aim of the person who released it? The duty of the government is to investigate who, with which purpose and why wanted to end Mr Baykal's political life in Turkey."

Kilicdaroglu as the Strongest Candidate: Obtaining overwhelming support from Republican People’s Party provincial chairpersons Tuesday, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu announced his candidacy for CHP leader at the party conference on 22-23 May. However, Kılıçdaroğlu said he wants to see the former head Deniz Baykal as honorary leader. He also added that if the circumstances permitted, he wanted to see Baykal as the president of Turkey.

Baykal refused the offer of honorary leader since it is Kemal Ataturk who formed the party.Speaking to the media after the meeting Baykal, acting CHP leader Cevdet Selvi said: “Baykal seemed dynamic and in high spirits. However, he was angry with his fate.” Selvi also said Baykal had no problem with the candidacy of Kılıçdaroğlu.

Kilicdaroglu, in an interview with Milliyet, said Wednesday he would work closely with the poor if elected as the new party leader. He would support youth and those who produce, invest and create employment opportunities.

According to a poll conducted by A&G Public Opinion in 39 provinces and districts, CHP’s share of a national vote would reach 32.3 percent if Kılıçdaroğlu took the leadership. If Deniz Baykal returned, the votes would go down to 18.6 percent, and another leader appointed by Baykal would return 21.7 percent.

Turkish Military Shows Flexibility: Following a series of agreements between Athens and Ankara, Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ told reporters Wednesday that he has proposed stopping flights of armed jets over the Aegean to his Greek counterpart in a move to end potential unwanted incidents. The response he received was, “I will consider this.”

A "Well Done" to Turkey: On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Turkey’s efforts in the Cyprus talks, the uranium swap deal signed in Tehran, the Somalia conference in Istanbul, the mediation role in the Middle East, the EU membership process, indirect talks between Syria and Israel, Alliance of Civilizations initiative,and rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia.

Ban added that he hoped Cypriot leaders would meet soon to continue the talks. "As I understand, they will meet at the end of this month." He continued:
I have extended strong support to negotiations, and I continue to do so. More than 70 talks have taken place between the two leaders in the past 18 months. This is an extremely positive development.

Turkey Inside Line: Latest War between Government and Opposition; New Era in Turkish-Greek Relations 

The War of Words between Government & Opposition: On Friday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Denis Baykal, the recently-resigned leader of the main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), traded verbal jabs.

Before his visit to Greece, Erdogan said, "In our society, we are unable to see people who betray their spouses as the injured party." Baykal responded in a statement, "The allegation is another conspiracy against the CHP. The duty of a Prime Minister is not to engage in rumors but to disclose the truth."

Turkey Inside Line: Ankara & Russia Press Israel on Hamas Issue

On the same day, Baykal met high-ranking deputy Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu at his home. Speaking later to a group of journalists in Parliament, Kılıçdaroğlu said Baykal expressed no intention of participating in the CHP convention on 22-23 May. According to Hürriyet, Kılıçdaroğlu is refusing to run against Baykal for the leadership and will only be a candidate if Baykal agrees.

Meanwhile, Nesrin Baytok, the woman alleged to be involved in the sex video scandal, told the Turkish daily Aksam on Thursday that the video is part of a conspiracy and that her family has been very supportive. She added, “I’ve spent 20 years to come this far. I’m not giving up now.”

NGOs are trying to raise their voices against ongoing speculation and discussions in the media. “We are strongly against the media’s treatment of the female deputy figure [Baykal],” said Çiğdem Aydın, the chairwoman of the Association for Women’s Support and Education (KADER). She added, “This wrong perception [of Baykal as the bad figure in the scandal] could kill any future attempt by females to be involved in politics.”

Turkish-Greek Relations in Blossom: In his first visit to Greece since 2004, Erdoğan with 10 ministers and about 100 businessmen called for a "new era" in ties between the two countries. "This will be a start to move Greek-Turkish relations into an improved phase," Erdoğan said during a meeting with Greek President Carolos Papoulias, “I believe ... the 21 accords and cooperation protocols that we will sign with our neighbor and friend Greece will mark the beginning of a new era in our relations.” Erdogan continued:
We intent to stand by you in solidarity and that is why we are visiting you together with my ministers. We must help with this process.

A deal was signed allowing Greece to send at least 1,000 readmission requests for illegal migrants coming from Turkey to Greece. The rest of the accords are on bilateral economic relations. Erdogan said:
We intend to show solidarity with Greece, that is why I am visiting with my ministers. We need to help each other. Our economies supplement each other ... if our two countries cooperate we can maximize the benefits for both our countries.

Turkey's State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said the Banks Association of Turkey and the Hellenic Bank Association would cooperate more closely. He added:
The association will extend necessary support if Turkish banks are willing to invest in Greece.

Turkey wants to stand by Greece, not against it, and this will be for the best interests of the two countries.

Turkey and Greece are expected to hold a high-level cooperation council meeting every year with the participation of numerous ministers. The Prime Ministers of the two countries will chair the meeting.

In remarks to the Greek daily Ta Nea on Monday, Turkey's chief European Union negotiator Egemen Bağış called for mutual cuts in military spending, pointing at the severe financial crisis shaking Greece. In an interview with Greece's state television late Thursday, Erdogan said:
Both countries have very large defense budgets. ... We must reduce these expenditures and use the money for other purposes.

In an interview with Turkey's Today's Zaman before Erdogan's visit, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said:
Greece and Turkey will never be able to normalize their relations as long as there are threats in the Aegean with regard to the Greek islands, as long as there are occupation forces in Cyprus. We have to put these things behind us once and for all.

The period from 1999 to 2004 when I talked about the vision of arms reductions between the two countries -- a reduction that would enable our two societies to invest in education, health and culture, rather than in weapons. I am talking about the “peace dividend” that will accrue as a result of confidence-building between our two countries and the removal of any kind of threats. This is the driving force behind Greece’s efforts. This is the vision that must guide our actions. The Aegean can become a sea of peace. All we need to do -- “we” being the leaders of our two countries -- is speak plainly amongst ourselves and to our peoples. We have to remove the gray areas from our relations and devote ourselves to the common future that awaits us in the European family.

Turkey Inside Line: Opposition Leader Resigns, Turkish-Russian Relations & More

Ali Yenidunya launches his new feature picking up and analysing the key news from Turkey:

The Opposition Leader Resigns: The leader of the main opposition party Republican People's Party (CHP), Deniz Baykal, resigned from his post on Monday. The purported reason is a video clip allegedly showing him having sex with a party deputy, Nesrin Baytok. According to the claim, her husband Can Baytok helped this forbidden relationship so his wife could become a member of Parliament. Baykal, during his press briefing, called thevideo a two-week-old "conspiracy" and added:
I will never let anyone question me due to this immoral and unlawful conspiracy. If it has a cost and if it is to resign from this chair, I am ready to pay it. My resignation does not mean a surrender to this cowardly conspiracy against me, you and CHP. Indeed, it is a challenge!


Then Baykal accused the government of waging a smear campaign:
It is impossible to prepare and release such a two-week-old, tough conspiracy work encroaching rights and morality of the main opposition party's leader without government's information and approval. The "good will" and statements of "sorrow" showed following the incident will never cover up the guiltiness of the work backstage.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded:
Statements of Deniz Baykal are ugly and unequal. They are political defamation-oriented. Charging the offense on the government is immorality.

The counter-reply came from the spokesman of CHP, Mustafa Ozyurek:
Mr. Prime Minister gave such an ugly response. We are facing a prime minister who cannot comprehend an honourable man's honourable move. Mr. Baykal, in his talk, said "The lawbreaker stand up" and the lawbreaker stood up!

Mr. Prime Minister says that they tried to prevent the dispersion of the video. This is false. The clip was tried to be prevented with efforts of the prosecution office; not of the prime minister! Even now, these ugly scenes are on internet.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office has launched an investigation to determine who filmed the video and put it online. The Prosecutor's Office is working with the Ministry of Justice in order to determine the name or the IP number of the uploader on the website Metacafe. Assistance from Canada has been officially requested since the website is owned by Tucows İnc. in Toronto.

Within the CHP, some believe the video was uploaded to the Internet ito weaken the current party leader and administration ahead of the party congress on 22 May. Some CHP officials point at Şişli Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül, who established Turkey's Change Movement (TDH) after he was expelled from the CHP, reportedly over a disciplinary issue. CHP Secretary General Onder Sav claimed that Sarıgül bribed a gang leader to shoot Baykal in his legs during a visit to Brussels on 13 April. His claim is based on an e-mail sent to the İstanbul Police Department by an unidentified individual.

Moscow-Ankara Ties: Dmitry Medvedev, the President of Turkey's main gas supplier Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, is coming to Ankara from Damascus on Tuesday. "Some 25 agreements will be signed," the Kremlin's top foreign policy adviser Sergei Prikhodko said.

Agreements include an arrangement between Russian gas giant Gazprom and state oil firm Rosneft and a cooperation memorandum to build and service a nuclear power station. Most prominently, Moscow is trying to convince Ankara to build a section of its key South Stream pipeline through Turkey's portion of the Black Sea to create a new route bypassing Ukraine for Russian gas to Europe. Turkey, which supports the rival EU-backed Nabucco pipeline, has agreed to allow Moscow to start surveys in its territorial waters in the Black Sea for South Stream.

Erdogan's "3 Children" Proposal: The Premier, for a long time, has called on the citizens of the Republic to have at least three children. He restated at a wedding ceremony on Sunday:
Turkey's current population increase rate is 1.5 for some and 1.8 for others. This means that the population of this nation is getting older. And we are proud of our young population now. Therefore, this [growth] must be over 2.5. If it goes like this, our situation is not good in 2038. I am saying this as the Prime Minister. Maybe, we will put an award for this because we must succeed.

The Suspicious Link between the Murder of Hrant Dink and Ergenekon Suspects: According to Istanbul Police Department, six of 52 Ergenekon suspects, accusing of a conspiracy against the Government, had telephone conversations with the suspects of the Hrant Dink case. Dink, assassinated in 2007, was a well-known member of the Armenian minority in Turkey and editor of the Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos.

The accused included Brigadier General Veli Küçük, lawyer Kemal Kerinçsiz, Levent Temiz, Mustafa Levent Göktaş, Erbay Çolakoğlu, and retired captain Muzaffer Tekin.