Erdoğan hints at Syria intervention in Parliament’s opening session

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.

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About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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