CHP leader slams deputy PM over terror remarks

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Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has slammed Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş for his claim that terrorist attacks will end if the public approves government-supported constitutional amendments that will usher in an executive presidency.

“If this is true, it means the source of terrorism today is the government and the government’s spokesperson has confessed this openly,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on Jan. 24.

“God willing, after a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum, these terrorist organizations will come to a point where they do not have any voice. We are taking all kinds of measures against it [terrorism]. After a big ‘yes’ vote in the referendum, these terrorist organizations will come to the stage of defeat,” Kurtulmuş told Anadolu Agency on Jan. 24. 

Kurtulmuş stated that the government believes terrorist organizations might step up their attacks in Turkey on the way to the referendum for constitutional amendments to encourage people to vote against the changes. But terrorists will no longer be able to stage attacks after Turkish people vote for a “big yes” in the referendum, Kurtulmuş said.

“Assassinations, suicide attacks and similar things may continue [the vote]. Why are the terrorist organizations in such a close strategic cooperation? They want to bring Turkey to its knees,” Kurtulmuş said. 

Kılıçdaroğlu slammed the deputy prime minister’s comments as an “unfortunate confession.”

“It is a confession that ‘we are supporting terrorism.’ It means ‘we are feeding terror, we overlook terrorist organizations and people are slaughtered, but if you choose us and bring about the presidential regime, the one-man regime, terrorism will stop,’” he said.

“This is a very unfortunate confession. I am sorry to hear such a comment. It is truly embarrassing for a person like Numan Kurtulmuş to make such a confession in front of 80 million people,” Kılıçdaroğlu added.

Turkey is heading toward a referendum likely to be held in the first week of April, where an 18-article package of constitutional amendments aiming to usher in an executive-style presidential system will be put to a public vote. 

Kurtulmuş said the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) prime concern in the campaign would be the fight against terrorism.

“The campaign will promote a more powerful governance model and a more efficient decision-making model that will eliminate terrorism. We will run the campaign based on the idea that it is not a regime change, but is a system change. Turkey will have an effective management model that will work toward growth, development and power,” he said. 

But he warned of possible assassination attempts of prominent figures ahead of the referendum in order to block the “yes” vote. 

“I believe the referendum process is a motivator for [terror organizations]. They could create an atmosphere of fear in Turkey by using terrorist organizations in order to block the ‘yes’ votes in the referendum,” he said.

He said the AKP would not campaign jointly with the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), with whom it collaborated in parliament in favor of the constitutional amendments.

“Both parties will hold referendum campaigns led by their own priorities. The AKP and the MHP will not have a common referendum campaign,” he said.

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