Turkey’s main opposition head ‘hurt souls of 80 million people,’ says PM Yıldırım

The leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has “hurt the souls of 80 million people” living in Turkey, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said, speaking on the first anniversary of a massive post-coup attempt rally held in Istanbul with the participation of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the CHP, and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

The rally in Yenikapı was attended by hundreds of thousands of people and the term “Yenikapı Spirit” was used at the time to describe the atmosphere of unity among parties after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, widely believed to have been masterminded by U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.

Asked whether the “Yenikapı Spirit” still exists, Yıldırım said “its spirit has been hurt.”

“The Yenikapı Spirit has been hurt. There are some who couldn’t adapt to that spirit and some who even lost it,” Yıldırım told reporters in Ankara on Aug. 7, claiming that CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu “lost all credibility” by describing the attempted takeover as a “controlled coup.”

“The leader of the main opposition lost all of his credibility when he called the attempted takeover the ‘most bloody coup attempt’ in the history of our Republic but then called it a ‘controlled coup.’ What’s more, he says ‘I’m the only leader defending the Yenikapı Spirit.’ I wish that were the case, but you [Kılıçdaroğlu] not only hurt the spirit of our 250 martyrs and veterans, you also hurt the souls of 80 million people,” he said, referring to the 250 people killed by pro-coup soldiers.

Kılıçdaroğlu in April said the coup attempt occurred “within the knowledge of the AKP” and was therefore a “controlled coup,” which drew harsh criticism from the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

During his speech, Yıldırım thanked Erdoğan and MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli for “claiming the ‘Yenikapı Spirit’ with love, just like the first day.”

“I want to thank our president, our friends from all branches of our party, the MHP, Bahçeli, and our people,” he said.

Yıldırım also commented on the recent Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meeting reshuffling the military’s top brass.

“Our criteria were very clear. We looked for merit and reliability in our TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] personnel. Their determined stance in the struggle against FETÖ and the separatist terrorist organization was also an important factor,” Yıldırım said, referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Regarding his decision to apply to be an intervening party in the case into the coup activities in the Akıncı Air Base, Yıldırım said it was his “duty.”

“I wanted to intervene in the case on behalf my state, people and our martyrs. Intervening in this case and seeking the rights of our martyrs, people and state is our duty,” he added.

The trial into the events in the Akıncı Air Base, used as headquarters by the coup soldiers, is one of the most high-profile cases into the attempted takeover.

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