The electoral agenda in Türkiye continues to be intense and complex.
The main development that marked last week in relation to the electoral agenda were the government and opposition’s messages to the U.S.
Main opposition party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was attacked verbally and physically, which drew public reaction.
Another significant development of the week was the program announced by the Vatan Party regarding relations between the Turkic world and Iran.
Messages to the US as Türkiye heads to elections
As Türkiye heads to elections, both the government and the opposition send messages to the U.S.
Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın had visited the US in recent weeks and held comprehensive talks there.
In his assessment of the visit, Kalın said that his message to US officials, “We want to work with you”, was not a request for political support.
Turkish journalist Deniz Zeyrek said that Kalın called him after his article about the US visit and shared the following information:
“Kalın emphasized that the message to ‘work together’ to the US was not a request for political support; on the contrary it is related to the cooperation between the two allied countries.
Kalın underlined that he did not ask for political support from the US and told his counterparts in the US (the officials he met in the White House, State Department and in the Congress) that it would not be right to establish a connection between the sale of F-16s to Türkiye and Türkiye’s stance on Sweden’s NATO membership.
According to Kalın, since Türkiye did not step back on any issue in the talks, my interpretation of ‘returning empty-handed from Washington’ is also incorrect.
However, with the phrase ‘returning empty-handed,’ I meant that the US would continue to support the PKK, block the sale of F-16s and oppose Türkiye’s trade with Russia.”
Another criticism of the US from the government side came from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.
Soylu answered questions of journalists on CNN TÜRK live broadcast. Stating that Europe and the US support the PKK/PYD Soylu said, “Even if there is only one citizen left, Türkiye will not allow the establishment of a terror state.”
The minister added: “The US wants to establish a terror state right next to us. There is a heavy cost as soon as this terror state is established. We are taking precautions. We have carried out 4 major military operations against this attempt.”
“This risk will not be eliminated until the US leaves the region. Look at the state of Afghanistan. If I were an American, I would be upset about this. People hung from the wheels of planes. It is not easy for Iraq and Syria to recover. There are permanent costs. This is not an easy job. The U.S. has wanted to establish a terror state for a long time. Türkiye has been fighting for more than 40 years against this.
Europe supports the PYD. They say, ‘We do not see them as a terrorist organization.’ They provided aid in hundreds of trucks. Türkiye will not allow this state to be established even if there is only one citizen left. If we think this is just today’s issue, we are mistaken. If you lose this stance, the division of Türkiye begins. There are two major supports, one is overt, the other covert. The biggest support comes from the US and France. We have provided immunity against the US. They tried to kill the president of Türkiye. On July 15, 2016, on the night of the coup, they published where the president’s plane is. Unlike Türkiye, France does not have immunity against the US. One of the vice presidents of the European Union said a good thing. He said the emperor has no clothes, he said we have become dependent on China for trade, on Russia for the energy, and on the US for security.
Soylu also stated that the US imposed an embargo on Türkiye: “What Türkiye is experiencing today is called ‘full independence.’ If you make your energy independent, build your airport, and build your bridges – these are the steps you take towards full independence. Canada had imposed an embargo on us. The U.S. imposed an embargo on us. They tried to restrict Türkiye.”
Unlike Süleyman Soylu, the opposition side made positive statements towards the US. Ünal Çeviköz, the chief advisor to the leader of the main opposition party CHP, spoke about Türkiye’s foreign policy.
In an interview with the U.S. media, Çeviköz said that the Table of Six would restore relations with the US. He said: “We believe that Türkiye-US relations will have mutual points and horizons together with the democratization process in domestic politics and the new foreign policy vision in the post-election new government period.”
Çeviköz later touched on the relations between the US and the Table of Six and said “The Table of Six is fully committed to increasing coordination and cooperation with the US.”
As for F-35, Çeviköz said:
“We understand that one of the main hurdles in front of Türkiye’s reengagement in the F-35 project or further defense-industrial cooperation with the US is, of course, the procurement of S-400s from the Russians.
“I understand that the future government will be of course willing to find a solution to that problem. I can’t make any judgment now as to how this solution is going to be reached. But it will be a kind of understanding that will satisfy the two parties, both Türkiye and the U.S. And with the resolution of this S-400 hurdle, I’m sure the reintroduction of Türkiye into the defense-industrial cooperation with the US will continue.”
Stating that they want to work together with NATO and the returning to the 5th generation fighter jet F-35 program was also included in the “Nation Alliance Common Policies Agreement”, Çeviköz said: “the F-35 problem is more challenging. Rejoining the fifth-generation jet program is a goal, and it is already present in our common position paper which has been signed by the six leaders of the Nation Alliance.”
Çeviköz mentioned the challenges in improving the relations; yet he spoke in a positive and promising tone:
“But I have to admit that we have lost two years. The elements of development and production that were once Türkiye’s responsibility have now been taken over by other producers.
So, it will be difficult to enter into the F-35 project per se. But the idea here is it’s a matter of continuing key defense-industrial cooperation between Türkiye and the US. The F-35 is only the fifth-generation project. There will be further technological development in the future, for the formation of the sixth generation, perhaps.”
Attacks on CHP leader and presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
The negative developments of last week were the attacks on the main opposition leader and presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in the city of Adıyaman.
Kılıçdaroğlu visited the Adıyaman Municipal Cemetery to commemorate those who lost their lives in the earthquake.
According to news in the media, while people were praying at the cemetery, a person shouted at Kılıçdaroğlu saying, “He doesn’t know how to read Fatiha; why are you letting him read Fatiha?” (“Fatiha” is a verse of the Quran).
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu made a statement on social media: “A grieving person can say and do anything; one should attribute it to their pain. Let’s not talk about these today; let’s commemorate our losses properly. Please do not do things to expose that person; especially be responsible on social media. If I have any rights, I have forgiven him.”
During his visit to Adıyaman, Kılıçdaroğlu also went to the Sahabe Safvan Bin Muattal Shrine. However, he and his entourage were booed by a group saying, “don’t come here.” The provocation against Kılıçdaroğlu that started in central Adıyaman turned into an attack in the town of Kahta.
The CHP leader was scheduled to meet with the public at a central park at 4:00 pm. As the hours passed and Kılıçdaroğlu did not arrive, young people started marching towards the city entrance. A brief tension erupted between the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Justice and Development Party (AKP) groups, which came face to face in front of the AKP party building on the way.
As Kılıçdaroğlu was about to enter the town of Kahta, vehicles at the front of his convoy were attacked with kicks in front of the AKP building. According to reports in the press, Kılıçdaroğlu, who was in a vehicle behind and not affected by the attack, decided to return to Ankara without entering the area.
According to information obtained by the press from security officials and Kılıçdaroğlu’s staff, Kılıçdaroğlu canceled the program because he feared a bloody conflict that would cast a shadow on the election.
Another attack took place in the city of Adana.
In Adana, the AK Party Çukurova District Presidency building, which was evacuated due to earthquakes, was shot at with a pump shotgun. Police teams caught the suspect. Vice President Fuat Oktay condemned the attack and AK Party Spokesperson Ömer Çelik announced that the attacker directly targeted the AK Party.
Vatan Party’s call to the Turkic world regarding Iran
Vatan Party Chairman Doğu Perinçek held a press conference at the Vatan Party Headquarters in Ankara on April 19, 2023 at 13.00 and announced the Decision of the Vatan Party Presidential Board regarding the process of participation of the Iranian State to the Turkish States Organization.
4-point decision of Vatan Party Presidential Board is as follows:
1. The historical breakthrough changing the world balances
As the Presidential Board of the Vatan Party, we have good news of a very important breakthrough to humanity. The process of participation to the Organization of Turkic States of the Islamic Republic of Iran has begun.
Vatan Party Presidential Board convened in Ankara on April 19, 2023 and unanimously decided to carry out work on the level of the Republic of Türkiye and other Turkish States for the invitation of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Organization of Turkish States. For this purpose, our party matures its initiatives on the part of all parties and carries it to a fruitful stage. Our Presidential Board announces its determination to make these works successful to the public of Türkiye, Iran, Turkish States and the World.
Vatan Party, in its sincere and constructive meetings with the representatives of the Iranian State, determined that the invitation of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Organization of Turkish States would contribute significantly to the rise of Asian Civilization, the economic development of the region and world peace.
Vatan Party has the opinion that there are wide opportunities for solidarity with our neighbors Russia and Iran on Türkiye’s energy security, the threats we face in the Eastern Mediterranean, Russia’s war against US imperialism on the Ukrainian front, prevention of NATO’s expansion to the East, eradicating terrorism, developing historical and cultural relations and on joint contributions to rising Asian Civilization.
2. Historical Turan-Iranian relations
Iran has been the neighbor and brother of the Turkish States and their people for thousands of years. There is a dense Turkish population among the Iranian people who make up the Iranian nation. Azeri Turks, Turkmens and other peoples of Turkish origin in Iran, besides being a solid guarantee of the unity of Iran, also constitute the mortar of the brotherhood and solidarity between the Iranian State and the Turkish states.
Turkish and Persian peoples have mixed and fused throughout history. Turkish and Iranian cultures have enriched each other in thousands of years of intense relations. As stated in the Divan-ı Lugat-it Turk of Kashgarlı Mahmut, “Head without scarf and Persian without Turk cannot be.” Turkish and Persian fed each other as sister languages. In this context, Iran is intertwined with the Turkish World with its imperial accumulation, political traditions and culture.
Today, in addition to this strong historical association between the Turkish States and Iran, there are common development opportunities in every field from security and economy to culture.
3. Horizons to be opened with the participation of Iran
The participation of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Organization of Turkic States will open new horizons for Turkish and Iranian states and peoples. Thus:
3.1. The strategic partnership between Türkiye and other Turkish States and Iran will be organized and institutionalized.
3.2. Türkiye’s energy security will be strengthened, the Turkish producer will have fuel, natural gas and gasoline, the trade volume between our countries will increase, and the imperialist sanctions against Iran will be rendered ineffective.
3.3. The attempts of the US imperialism and Israel to establish a second state of Israel under the name of “Kurdistan” and their plans to create a Sunni-Shiite polarization will be defeated tomorrow again as it was yesterday.
3.4. From the Eastern Mediterranean to the Arabian Sea, the security of our countries and the region will be strengthened.
3.5. Customs barriers between Türkiye and Iran will be lifted and the way to establish a Common Market in Western Asia will be opened.
3.6. Iran and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus will meet in the same Organization and thus a very strong step will be taken towards the recognition of the TRNC.
3.7. Türkiye’s ties with the Turkish States and Asian States in Asia will be established and developed over the Iranian geography, as it has throughout history.
3.8. The problems between Iran and Azerbaijan will be resolved permanently. Armenia will be embraced in the Caucasus Peace created by Türkiye, Russia and Iran, and the possibilities of the US intervention in the region through Armenia will be eliminated.
3.9. The struggle of the Islamic World against Imperialism and Zionism will progress on the path of success with the development of the Turkish and Persian Union as well as the Arab League, which is strengthened by the attitude of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emirates, Yemen and the whole Arab World against the US imperialism.
3.10 An important step will be taken to reach the goal of an independent and united Palestinian State whose capital is East Jerusalem.
3.11. The Astana Process created by Iran-Russia-Türkiye will be strengthened and the efforts to ensure the territorial integrity of Syria will accelerate.
3.12. The Belt and Road Initiative of the People’s Republic of China will achieve fruitful results thanks to the Organization of Turkish States, in which Iran also participates.
3.13. Organizations that serve humanity and world peace, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS, will develop and become stronger. Solidarity between Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Bangladesh, India and between Turkish States and Iran will gain strength.
3.14. An important acceleration will be realized in the rise of Asian Civilization.
4. Initial steps in the process taken
Vatan Party had very positive, constructive and productive talks with the Iranian State for Iran to join the Organization of Turkish States, and this process continues successfully.
Our party has planned to work with the governments of the Republic of Türkiye and other member states of the Organization of Turkish States and will make the necessary initiatives.
For the progress of the process, the Vatan Party will meet with the Presidency of the Aksakallar (Elders) Council of the Organization of Turkic States and propose joint work.
We will also improve our exchange of views and cooperation on this issue with our strategic friends such as Russia and the People’s Republic of China.