The chairman of Turkey’s main opposition faction, the Republican People’s Party [CHP], Kemal Kilicdaroglu recently agreed to meet with a group of [journalists] from Milliyet. Throughout the course of the meeting, we found him well versed on regional developments and found his accusation that the AKP [Justice and Development Party] had committed treason particularly interesting.
Klicdaroglu argued that the government had been taking sides on even minor regional issues. “For example, in Palestine we are openly supporting one party [Hamas]. The same goes for Syria [Turkey supports the opposition], and [the AKP] is adopting a similar approach in Egypt,” he said.
This stance does more than damage Turkey’s credibility in the region - it also allows Iran to take over the Middle East, Kilicdaroglu said, noting the “strong Shiite empowerment” in the region. Given Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki’s remarks on Syria [Maliki has supported the regime of Bashar al-Assad], Kilicdaroglu remarked that Turkey’s credibility in the region has never so low.
“We are fighting everyone: Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Israel and Iran. There’s not a single Middle Eastern country that trusts Turkey today. When there are disagreements among [these powers], we offer to mediate. But they go to other countries. They ask Egypt to mediate. Even the Palestinians went to Egypt, not to Turkey,” Kilicdaroglu said.
He continued: “The AKP is playing a double game in foreign policy. They say they are against Israel, but then they bring the missile shield to Kurecik, Malatya [a town in eastern Turkey]. [Was this done out of regard] for Turkey’s interests? Everyone knows [that it was done] to strengthen Israel’s position in the region. All the data from the missile shield is shared with Israel in real time. The Pentagon confirmed this with [the media].”
When we reminded Kilicdaroglu that Turkish military had been seeking a missile defense system since the first Gulf War, he responded: “Then let the government come out and openly say that our country needs it.” But this was not done. [The issue should have] been debated in Parliament, he added.
Kilicdaroglu questioned how Turkey can be a serious force in this region: “I said before that, in the Middle East, Turkey was a subcontractor for Western countries. This is obvious: We are the subcontractor for a country sovereign in the West.”
Kilicdaroglu then said the richest natural gas reserves are in the Mediterranean. “Those areas were marked as exclusive economic zones. The UN was informed of this and contracts were issued. What did we do?” Nobody took Turkey’s dire warnings on the issue seriously. He continued: “We conceded our rights. A Greek Cypriot got up and said ‘We must continue with our ways. The Turks just talk alot, nothing will happen.’ He was right.”
Regarding the natural gas deal recently struck with Russia, Kilicdaroglu said: “The Russians really came after us for their South Stream project. Our government said that Turkey has interests too; the South Stream could kill the Nabucco project.” Then what did we do? For a price reduction of three years we allowed them [to build and operate pipes through Turkey’s exclusive economic zone]. Then we found out that [the price reduction] wasn’t for three years but rather for one year. Did anyone question this? I am speaking openly. Let there be a fair inquiry, this will be called treason.”