The new legislative year began with the opening session of Parliament on Wednesday, where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signaled that Turkey would be prepared to intervene in the crisis in Syria as clashes in its southern neighbor intensify.
“Turkey has become a country which can take initiative,” Erdoğan said in his opening address in Parliament on the first day of the new legislative year, noting that a large state is one which can cope with risks.
Parliament is scheduled to discuss on Thursday a motion submitted by the government authorizing the government to send troops to foreign countries, as the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) recently intensified its attacks in Syria near the Turkish border.
The advance in recent weeks by ISIL in Syria and Iraq, and the presence of members of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Iraq is the threat against which the government will be seeking to obtain Parliament’s consent for a potential out-of-border military operation.
“As new crises are ongoing in the region, it is unthinkable for us to remain indifferent and timid,” Erdoğan said.
Two of the opposition parties represented in Parliament, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), said they would vote against the motion, while the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is expected to offer support to the motion.
The MHP did not publicly announce that its deputies would vote for the motion, but officials of the party implied that it would give support to the motion in the interests of the nation. As for the HDP, party officials said their vote would be no as the PKK is also mentioned as a potential threat to Turkey in the motion. The government has been conducting talks to settle the country’s decades-old Kurdish issue with the jailed leader of the PKK since the end of 2012.
Erdoğan’s speech revealed that Turkey disagreed with its Western allies, in particular with the US, as to how to intervene in the crisis in Syria, emphasizing that the Syrian regime must also be toppled as part of a solution in Syria. The Syrian regime should be eliminated immediately, Erdoğan emphasized.
Erdoğan spoke for the first time as president in Parliament since being elected last month, and made clear that any solution which does not include the elimination of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime would be a temporary one.
“Everybody should know that Turkey is not a country that would let itself be used in efforts to find a temporary solution to the crisis,” he said. “Proposals and warnings by Turkey should be given heed to,” Erdoğan added.
Erdoğan covertly suggested that the motion should be passed for the interest of Turkey by maintaining that Turkey’s interests were harmed in 1990 when the country refrained, despite then-President Turgut Özal’s insistence, from being part of an active member of the US operation against Iraq in the Gulf War.
MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli criticized Erdoğan for speaking more like a prime minister than a president who has, as per the Turkish parliamentary system, mostly symbolic powers, apart from in exceptional cases.
Other than some CHP deputies, all members of Parliament stood up when Erdoğan, who was much criticized by the opposition before the presidential election on Aug.10, entered Parliament.
Chief of the General Staff Necdet Özel, together with force commanders, was present during Erdoğan’s speech, while Ali Alkan, head of the Supreme Court of Appeals, did not attend the opening session.