Bahçeli slams inflammatory video insulting Erdoğan, EP progress report on Turkey

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 19.04.2016 23:09
Updated 20.04.2016 15:37
Bahçeli slams inflammatory video insulting Erdoğan, EP progress report on Turkey

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli said Tuesday that his party cannot applaud or accept as an act of freedom of speech a recent video broadcast on a German national TV station that contained a satirical poem with insults and profanity directed at President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In a speech during the MHP's parliamentary group meeting, Bahçeli described the video as a groveling attack and said: "No person can accept being so insulted, and no nation can be belittled or mocked. We will not stand back while our rivals are insulted by foreigners." The video has garnered severe criticism from social media and the public. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also discussed the video during a phone call on April 3.

According to a statement from state secretary and government spokesman Steffen Seibert, Merkel told Davutoğlu that she found German comedian Jan Böhmermann's poem "deliberately insulting."

Concerning intra-party debates within the MHP, Bahçeli promised to remove his opponents, implying acceptance of allegations that some are backed by the Gülen Movement. "We will sweep those who confront us," he said.

Speaking to reporters after his address in Parliament, Bahçeli also criticized Meral Akşener's latest remarks in which she accused him of having links with Gülen Movement and said that such remarks are impertinent.

An MHP committee, authorized by a court decision on April 8, announced that an extraordinary congress will be held on May 15. The MHP administration is expected to appeal the decision by the Supreme Court of Appeals. Dissidents in the MHP have been pushing for an extraordinary congress following its poor performance in the Nov. 1 elections. The intra-party opposition is looking to oust Bahçeli as chairman.

Meral Akşener, Sinan Oğan, Koray Aydın and Ümit Özdağ have effectively declared an intra-party war against Bahçeli. The first three submitted 543 signatures to the party in the presence of a notary public in mid-January, calling for an extraordinary congress. The number was sufficient to call for an extraordinary congress, but it is far below the threshold to change the party bylaws, which disallow elections for the chairmanship at extraordinary congresses.

On the topic of the European Parliament (EP) progress report for Turkey in 2015 released on Thursday, Bahçeli said the report does not respect Turkey's values and described the demand for using proportional force against the PKK as "impudent."

He said: "Will those who pat [terrorists] on the back teach us humanity?" and recalled that the report demands that the PKK be removed from the EU list of terrorist organizations.

The report by EP Turkey Rapporteur Kati Piri is expected to overshadow EU-Turkey relations, which were drawing close of late. EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkır said on Thursday that the report is unacceptable and will be returned unopened. In an expression of disapproval for the draft EP report, which refers to the events of 1915 as "genocide," deputies in Parliament penned a letter to Piri.

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