Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Chairman of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) was in Brussels to attend a meeting of the European Parliament Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats on May 15, when statements he made regarding Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan at a press briefing resulted in the cancellation of a bilateral meeting with EU Socialist group leader Hannes Swoboda, scheduled for later in the day.
Kılıçdaroğlu was dishing up criticism of Erdoğan's comments following the twin bombing attack in Reyhanlı when he likened Prime Minister Erdoğan to Bashar al-Assad and said that both were oppressive and that there was only a difference in tone between them.
Swoboda responded with an announcement stating that such comments were unacceptable. "I cannot accept the CHP leader, who was a guest of mine, comparing Prime Minister Erdoğan to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This is just unacceptable." Swoboda's announcement went on to state, "Even though Erdoğan's policies may legitimately be debated, there is absolutely no way he can be compared to Assad, who is a leader waging war and terrorism against his own public."
Since then, allegations have surfaced that the polemic with CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu was the result of collaboration with the Turkish government as well as due to investments in Turkey by the firms where his spouse is a board member.
In response, Swoboda stated, "I want to keep this discussion refined. This may be the level of refinement for those who are making these statements, however it certainly is not mine."