Samsun, Oct 20 () - Turkey’s main opposition leader has dubbed a plan between Ankara and the European Union aimed at stemming the mass movement of migrants across Europe’s borders a “bribe” because German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered the country a chance for faster progress in its bid to join the EU in return for cooperation on the refugee issue.
“Two million Syrians have come to Turkey. They have proceeded to the West in order to find a better living standard. Here is what Merkel says: ‘Let Syrians stay in Turkey. We will give you money if you keep them there.’ That’s to say, she is openly offering a bribe to Turkey. We definitely disapprove of it. Turkey is not a country where concentration camps of foreigners are built and should not be” Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said on Oct. 19, while en route from Ankara to the Black Sea province of Samsun.
“The civil war in Syria should end, Syria should be rebuilt in a short time and Syrians should freely return to their country” Kılıçdaroğlu added.
“Now they are begging Merkel, saying, ‘Please release the progress report after the [Nov. 1 snap] elections.Why after the elections? Because there are a lot of issues such as flaws in democracy and human rights, unemployment and corruption in that report” Kılıçdaroğlu said, in an apparent reference to the caretaker Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.
EU officials have denied a link between the postponement of its annual progress report on Turkey, which was planned for Oct. 14 but delayed until an unspecified future date and the migration action plan on curbing the flow of refugees to Europe which the commission is discussing with Turkey.
During a joint press conference following his meeting with visiting Merkel on Oct. 18, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Turkey was ready to work with Germany and the EU on the migration crisis and would take all measures to prevent illegal migration. However, the prime minister noted Ankara was focused on four issues, including the opening of EU negotiation chapters, visa liberalization, the transfer of 3 billion euros from the EU to Turkey for migrant support and the invitation of Turkish leaders to EU summits.
“If you were a powerful and esteemed country, they would invite you [to the EU] anyhow. There wouldn’t be any need for you to demand [an invitation]. Turkey is degraded as a country which obtrusively gets itself invited. I take this to heart” Kılıçdaroğlu said, arguing the AKP, in power since 2002, has gradually downgraded the country’s reputation.
“In the past, Turkey used to be invited everywhere. Now, it is being excluded from everywhere,” he said.
Handing the mandate ‘like lambs’
Kılıçdaroğlu also commented on recent remarks by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who lashed out at the opposition for criticizing his gargantuan presidential palace, dubbed the “unregistered palace” saying they would eventually submissively visit the palace like “lambs.”
“Both the main opposition party and other opposition parties tirelessly mention the ‘unregistered palace’ in the face of a president who was elected by popular vote” Erdoğan said on Oct. 17. Challenging opposition leaders’ decision to avoid visiting the controversial palace in protest, he said, “Sooner or later you will come like lambs.”
“It appears that he [Erdoğan] hands the mandate [to the CHP] like lambs. The election results [of Nov. 1] will oblige him to do so. He is trying to lay the ground for that in his own style” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Erdoğan did not hand the CHP the mandate, hence a chance to form a coalition government, after the failure of talks with the AKP following the June 7 elections. The CHP accused him of violating the constitution. But Erdoğan has snapped back, saying he could not meet Kılıçdaroğlu because the CHP leader refused to set foot in his gigantic presidential palace that opened last year amid huge controversy.