As Türkiye is going through the critical last 6 days of the election process, candidates and parties continue their campaigns with rallies, statements, and promises.
Statements regarding foreign policy also have an important place in the electoral process. The ruling party has joined the opposition in making statements about “good relations with the West”.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s remarks of “commitment to NATO” made headlines last week.
In the home stretch the ruling party’s projects declared to the public have attracted public attention too.
Another important development last week was the reactions from Türkiye to US President Joe Biden’s characterization of the events of April 24, 1915, as “genocide.”
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu: “We are an unwavering NATO member”
As Türkiye rapidly approaches 14 May election day, another positive message to the West came from the foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke positively about NATO in a television program.
Stating that Türkiye is supporting NATO’s expansion, Çavuşoğlu said that Türkiye is one of the countries that best fits NATO’s mission. He added, “We are a NATO member in the full sense of the word. We are one of the strongest members of NATO. We are one of the 5 countries that contribute the most to NATO’s operations. We are supporting NATO’s activities including expansion. We are an unwavering NATO member.”
While pointing out that they object to certain issues within NATO, Çavuşoğlu continued, “We were able to bring the fight against terrorism on the real agenda only at the Madrid summit. Terrorism is now one of the two threats for NATO. We state it when NATO or other allies make mistakes. However, in the last 20 years our policy has been based on a proactive and humanitarian approach: A 360-degree foreign policy without showing one as an alternative to the other. This 360-degree foreign policy includes Russia, the Gulf, the Islamic world, Asia, the Caucasus and Latin America. African opening, Latin American opening… I have to keep good relations with everyone.”
Çavuşoğlu also addressed Türkiye’s relations with Russia and Iran within the context of NATO:
“At first, they started saying that there was an axis shift to question our relations with Russia, when we started showing some interest in the East as well… Now, many countries say, ‘It’s good to have an ally who can talk to both Russia and Ukraine equally.’ We rejected Russia’s attack on Ukraine, supported Ukraine’s border and territorial integrity, and backed resolutions in the UN and elsewhere. We do not recognize the annexation of Crimea. We do not compromise on our principles or basic policies just because we maintain relations with Russia. We do not participate in sanctions, neither against Russia nor Iran. Why should we? What is the benefit for me?”
Çavuşoğlu was also asked about contacts with Syria. Warning that if Türkiye withdraws from Syrian territory terrorist organizations will fill the void, Çavuşoğlu stated:
“The opposition says it will stop operations abroad. In this case, when we withdraw from these places, who will fill the void? Terrorist organizations. Do we keep a large part of these terrorists 30 kilometers below us? We do. When these terrorists reach Türkiye’s borders, God forbid Türkiye can be target of terrorist attacks every day. We are paying a price here, why are we paying it? So that our own territories are secure. We are here not for pleasure, not because we covet Syria’s territory. When full security is restored in these places, if the political process works, if internal peace is ensured, only then we can withdraw. At the moment, it is not possible for us to take such a step, because it would be a matter of national security and serious threats for us. We are saying this to everyone. We are saying this to Russia, Iran, and Syria: We could not carry out this process with such a precondition. We will agree on a road map and eventually the stability of Syria is established, and then we take the necessary steps.”
Ruling party’s campaigns towards the elections
The ruling party has accelerated its activities towards the last week in the electoral process.
The first major move was the completion of the project to bring natural gas from the Black Sea to land.
In his statement on the subject, President Erdoğan said:
“We started our land facility in January 2021. We have reduced the time to make the discovered gas usable, which takes 6-7 years in other parts of the world, to below 3 years at this pace… The pride of this achievement belongs to the whole of our nation. We will extract 10 million cubic meters of gas per day from the Sakarya Field in the first place, and 40 million cubic meters per day in the following process with the new wells that we will drill. When we reach full capacity, we will be able to meet 30 percent of our country’s needs from here. Our gas reserves in the Black Sea have reached 710 billion cubic meters.”
Erdoğan emphasized “The cost of natural gas required for kitchen and hot water consumption, which corresponds to an average of 25 cubic meters per month, will be reduced from bills for a year. We will not charge for the natural gas consumption of residential buildings throughout Türkiye for a month.”
Another important project was the launch of domestically produced Togg. In his speech at the TOGG ceremony, Erdoğan said:
“Today, we are witnessing the fulfillment of our nation’s 60-year-old dream. We placed the first order of Togg, the pride of our country, in 2019. Today, we receive the first smart vehicle.
I hope that Togg, one of the first fruits of the Turkish Century, will be auspicious and blessed for our entire nation. Togg was born, developed, and reached its current level as a symbol of our country’s technological development, economic growth, and global reputation. As you know, this project has been subjected to unfair criticisms, accusations, and slanders that began when it was still in the idea stage and continue today. Slanders were directed at the revolutionary car many times more than those directed at Togg. So what happened? It was designed, the factory was established, it was produced, and Togg broke order records on the first day it went on sale.
No matter where you go in the world, you will see Turkish brands. Togg will grace the roads across the world as a prestigious Turkish brand in the period ahead.”
The TCG Anadolu warship was also introduced to the public. The domestic ship project, which started construction in 2016, was completed after 7 years.
At the ceremony for TCG Anadolu, President Erdoğan said:
“At the end of seven years, we are putting our TCG Anadolu ship into service. We are happy, we are proud. May my Lord perpetuate this pride of ours.
TCG Anadolu, which we have commissioned, is the world’s first warship in its field where the largest and heaviest helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles can land and take off. In other words, TCG Anadolu is the world’s first unmanned aerial vehicles ship. Our Bayraktar TB3, UAV, Kızıl Elma Unmanned Combat Aircraft, and HÜRJET Light Attack Aircraft will be able to land and take off on this ship. In addition, thanks to the tanks and amphibious armored assault vehicles it carries, our ship will have the features that will allow us to carry out military and humanitarian operations anywhere in the world when needed.”
Another significant event was the opening of the first part of Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant. President Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin attended the opening of the Turkish-Russian joint project.
President Erdoğan thanked the participants celebrating the country’s day of pride and said:
“We are now witnessing the arrival of nuclear fuel to the plant ground, the final step prior to the start of the production phase at the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). With the delivery of nuclear fuel by sea and air to our plant, the Akkuyu has now acquired the nuclear power plant status. Therefore, our country has risen to the league of countries with nuclear power in the world, albeit after a 60-year delay.”
Another important project announced by President Erdoğan was the national combat aircraft KAAN.
Noting that Türkiye faced numerous challenges in its way to “a fully independent Türkiye in the defense industry” President Erdoğan emphasized the determination of Türkiye:
“They did this sometimes openly and sometimes under the guise of good intentions. When they could not say ‘we will stop’, they said ‘we will intervene’; when they could not show the courage to say ‘we will close’, they referred to ‘competition’, and they tried to hide their intentions with fancy phrases. Despite this, we didn’t stop; we weren’t intimidated; we didn’t give up trying, and we didn’t even briefly consider abandoning our goals. Thanks be to Allah, we made Gazi’s dream ‘future’ for our nation a reality, which had not been done before, had not progressed even if it had begun, and had even been sabotaged. However, there is still a long way to go. We took our national combat aircraft KAAN out of the hangar yesterday, which they humiliated by saying, “Its part looks like a radiator.” We witnessed the critical stages of our country’s first supersonic fighter jet Hürjet, our heavy attack helicopter, Atak-2, and our unmanned combat aircraft, Anka-3. We don’t just produce planes, helicopters, satellites, tanks, missiles, and weapons. We are producing technology and building the Century of Türkiye all together.”
Erdoğan also stated that “Türkiye will become one of the five countries that have this kind of technology with this aircraft.”
Reactions to US President using the term “Armenian genocide”
US President Joe Biden’s use of the term “genocide” in relation to the events of April 24, 1915 has sparked reactions in Türkiye.
The statement, where the term “Constantinople” was used instead of Istanbul, said:
“On April 24, 1915, Ottoman authorities arrested Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople—the start of a systematic campaign of violence against the Armenian community. In the years that followed, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths—a tragedy that forever affected generations of Armenian families.”
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu strongly reacted to Biden. Sharing a message on his Twitter account Çavuşoğlu wrote:
“Yet another attempt by political charlatans to distort history! Politically driven statements cannot change the facts. Those intentionally insisting on their mistakes are destined to be remembered as hypocrites. No one shall dare to lecture us on our history.”
The main opposition party Republican People’s Party (CHP) also reacted to Biden’s statements.
Ünal Çeviköz, General Director responsible for Foreign Relations and Istanbul deputy, stated on his social media account that politicizing the 1915 events is wrong. Çeviköz’s post on the subject read:
“Politicizing the assessments about the 1915 events instead of leaving them to historians is wrong. We never accept the accusation of genocide. It is up to Türkiye and Armenia to leave a legacy based on a just memory for future generations. We condemn the comments of third countries.”
The strongest reaction came from Doğu Perinçek, the leader of the Vatan Party.
Perinçek made the following statements on the subject:
“US President Biden used the word ‘genocide’ again today. This speech is worth as much as a rooster crowing in the morning. An education law has been brought to the US House of Representatives. According to this bill, they will tell that the ‘Armenian genocide’ took place. We do not wish for the US House of Representatives to make such a decision, because this decision would be contrary to law. We obtained these decisions in the Perinçek-Switzerland case, Ali Mercan-Switzerland case, and Hasan Kemahlı – Switzerland case at the European Court of Human Right. Neither the US President nor the US House of Representatives has the authority to mention genocide. We remind them of the court decisions. According to the United Nations Convention, the competent authority for any act to be genocide is the court. That is, the local court of the place where the genocide was committed or the International Court of Justice. But these courts have made no such ruling. Then the situation can be summarized as follows: No court decision, no genocide. We have registered this with the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.”
Perinçek also criticized the government for remaining silent in the face of slander and threats from the US. He used the phrase “We do not want a government that fears the US.”
The Swiss courts had found Perinçek guilty of “racial discrimination” for describing the Armenian Genocide as an “imperialist lie”.
Perinçek won his lawsuit against Switzerland at the European Court of Human Rights, and Perinçek’s related statements were recognized within the scope of “freedom of expression”. In its judgment, the European Court of Human Rights characterized the term “Armenian Genocide” as “a narrow legal concept that is difficult to prove” and ruled, “the Armenian genocide allegations and the Jewish genocide cannot be compared with each other”.
With this judgment, it has been revealed that the allegations that Turks committed genocide against Armenians are baseless in legal and historical terms.