CHP CHIEF CRITICIZES RULING PARTY FOR EXPLOITING BELIEFS
Main opposition party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu criticized Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during Monday's election campaign rally in Aydın and urged citizens not to vote for the ruling party because of the way it exploits the beliefs of Turkish citizens.
The Republican People's Party, or CHP, leader called out to the crowd: "Do not vote for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who has exploited your beliefs and used your beliefs as political material. Vote for the party of the people who respects your beliefs. Vote for the CHP."
"Erdoğan had a consultant, Cüneyt Zapsu, who went to the United States and begged them not to sweep Erdoğan aside, but rather use him. Erdoğan cannot carry out foreign politics. Erdoğan cannot protect the stability of the country. Because Erdoğan is in charge of marketing the country" said Kılıçdaroğlu.
Speaking at an election campaign rally in Mersin earlier in the day, Kılıçdaroğlu emphasized the importance of freedom.
"What matters is to listen to opposing thoughts. We dream of a Turkey where everyone can say what they think freely. With these freedoms, we want to bring democracy," said the CHP chief.
HISTORICAL TESTIMONY FROM THE COUP LEADER AFTER 31 YEARS
An Ankara prosecutor questioned the leader of Turkey's 1980 military coup to determine whether to bring him and another surviving coup leader to trial, following constitutional amendments that lifted their immunity. Prosecutor Huseyin Gorusen is questioning retired Gen. Kenan Evren, the military chief of staff who led the 1980 coup and became president, at his home in Ankara on Monday, due to health problems. Prosecutors are also expected to question retire Gen. Tahsin Sahinkaya, the chief of the country's air force at the time. However, it is not clear whether the two can be tried. Some legal experts say a statute of limitations on legal moves against the coup engineers expired. Supporters of prosecution, however, argue there should be no deadline for alleged crimes against humanity.
US DIPLOMAT: "AKP WILL BE THE FIRST PARTY AFTER ELECTIONS"
Chief of political section at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Laura De Otalvaro says that AKP will be the first party in coming elections. While visiting Zonguldak, Otalvaro visited AKP Zonguldak head quarters and answered questions from the press jointly with the AKP Zonguldak city organization chairman, Hamdi Ucar. She says there is no doubt that AKP will win.
KURDS PART OF TURKEY, SAYS MHP CHIEF
Turkey's nationalist party held a rally in Diyarbakır for the first time in 16 years, during which party leader Devlet Bahçeli stated that the Kurdish people were a part of Turkey, and would not be marginalized.
"I greet Diyarbakır with love," said Bahçeli. "I embrace everyone, and hope the elections will bring peace, serenity, prosperity and health."
The first and last time a Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, leader visited Diyarbakır was in 1995. Fifty people attended Alparslan Türkeş's rally as hundreds of security forces stood by with Kalashnikov rifles. Türkeş had first attempted to travel to Diyarbakır in 1975, but was met with resistance from leftist groups and was forced to turn back.
In Diyarbakır, the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, have an overwhelming majority in Parliament.
"My brothers and sisters from Diyarbakır are looking for a solution to being divided and taken advantage of. I am telling you that I am tired of this disunion too," said Bahçeli.
"I am not here to ask for your votes, I am here to listen to your problems," added the MHP chief. "I am here to spoil the factious seeds planted by Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan."
Bahçeli emphasized the shared history between Turkish and Kurdish people based on cooperation dating back a thousand years. "No matter what language our mother speaks, or what we believe in, we are the Turkish nation."
"We see everyone as one, and have accepted everyone. No one is an outsider. We believe this, and we never wanted anyone to feel like a stranger in their own home. My brothers and sisters from Diyarbakır: you are us, and we are you," declared Bahçeli.
"You are equal and irreplaceable individuals of Turkey. Those in Washington cannot love you more than I do; and those in Brussels cannot understand you better than I do," stated the MHP leader.
"However, I do not claim that we do not have problems," he said. "But you are not alone in your problems. There are citizens struggling with many different problems all over Turkey."
"We respect your native language, but our main problems are unemployment and poverty," said Bahçeli, pointing out that passing the laws to allow Kurdish at schools would not put food on the table. "Some 13 million citizens are unemployed. The people of Diyarbakır close shop without making a single sale. The city has been devastated by poverty. Unemployment does not have an ethnic identity."
"Those who want to separate from Turkey have not pulled themselves together yet. Those who have realized that they cannot win over the Turkish people with guns are now trying to crack us from within. There is no other land that our Turkish people can migrate to – and yet they're trying to set us against each other. But they will never succeed," vowed Bahçeli.
"We need to be sharper than before. How can we solve separately the problems that we cannot solve together?" he asked.
Bahçeli blamed the AKP for dragging the country into a crisis, and urged the people of Diyarbakır to step up during the elections and make the ruling party accountable for the problems it created.
Bahçeli had previously attended a meeting in Diyarbakır in 2000 as deputy prime minister.
TURKEY'S AKP, CHP, DEEPEN SPAT OVER TIES WITH ISRAEL
A battle of words between the ruling and main opposition parties over Israel is deepening by the day as both parties accuse the other of spoiling Turkey's ties with the country.
"We should all avoid acts that would weaken our position with regard to the ongoing inquiry about the Mavi Marmara," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told CNNTürk in an interview Monday, referring to the United Nations inquiry about last year's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid vessel.
Davutoğlu's remarks came as a reaction to Republican People's Party, or CHP, leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who has been questioning the government's role in the Mavi Marmara incident, in which nine Turkish citizens died at the hands of Israeli commandos.
Kılıçdaroğlu harshly slammed the government for allowing hundreds of activists to set sail for Gaza without considering the possible results and hinted that Ankara was behind the action.
"The questions Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu is posing are the same as those of the Israelis. This is very thought-provoking," Davutoğlu said. "Introducing these questions as a tool of domestic politics is wrong and should not be done by the main opposition party."
Noting that Turkey was in a legal struggle with Israel over compensation for the Turkish citizens murdered while trying to take humanitarian aid to Gaza, Davutoğlu said he wanted to see all political parties back this struggle.
Kılıçdaroğlu, however, continued his criticisms Monday during stops in Mersin and Silifke, where he argued that an investigation into the Mavi Marmara incident was stopped on an order by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The CHP chief hinted this was to try and cover up the government's responsibility in this process.
"A criminal complaint was filed about this. The Justice Ministry has to give permission to launch an investigation. Why was this permission not given? It has been asked to Erdoğan: Did you give this permission or not?" Kılıçdaroğlu said.
The CHP chief additionally claimed that nearly ten members of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, decided at the last minute not to board the Mavi Marmara, implying that they did so upon government order.
The main opposition leader also noted that it was Erdoğan who received the Courage Award from a U.S.-based Jewish group and who negotiated with Israel on giving a piece of land on the Turkish-Syrian border to an Israeli company after it was cleared of landmines. "Who sent one of his ministers to Israel [to negotiate]? It was Erdoğan," Kılıçdaroğlu said.
GUL VISITS POLAND, ASKS FOR SUPPORT FOR EU BID
Turkish President Abdullah Gül said Monday that Turkey expected Poland's term presidency in the European Union to speed up Turkey's accession process and open more chapters to negotiations.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski after a one on one meeting and a meeting between the delegations of the two countries in Warsaw, President Gül said the friendship between Turkey and Poland dated back centuries.
"In 2014, we will celebrate the 600th anniversary of the foundation of relations between our two countries. Friendly historic relations continue to this day," Gül said.
"Turkey and Poland are two allies and strategic partners. We are determined to boost relations in all fields. Political relations between our two countries are excellent. We have carried our relations in the defense sector to higher levels. We have displayed a will to further promote economic relations between our two countries," Gül said.
"Poland will assume the rotating presidency of the EU on July 1. Poland is among the countries that have not lost strategic vision in EU matters and think about the future of Europe. Within this frame, I have thanked them for their support extended to Turkey's entry negotiations. Around 80% of the Polish people support Turkey's EU membership," Gül said.