Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has criticized the two largest opposition parties in Parliament for their leaders' remarks against a Kurdish initiative, which the government announced two weeks ago, promising the extension of freedoms to Kurds.
The details of the package are still in the making, the government says, however, some representatives have stated that the restoration of place names converted to Turkish back to their Kurdish originals and allowing the use of Kurdish in a wider sphere will be included.
Speaking on Wednesday at a party congress in Rize, Erdoğan lashed out at the leaders of the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) for their criticism of the government's Kurdish initiative. Both leaders refused to meet with Interior Minister Beşir Atalay, who is currently consulting with political parties and civil society leaders to hear their suggestions for a solution to the Kurdish question.
He accused CHP leader Deniz Baykal of acting unreliably on the Kurdish issue. “He says one thing in the morning and says another in the evening,” he said.
“They [the MHP and the CHP] used to say they are for consensus building. What happened to that?” Erdoğan asked. He responded to MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli, who had harshly criticized President Abdullah Gül's address at Güroymak where he used the Kurdish name of the town “Norşin,” saying soon the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) would start referring to İstanbul using its old Byzantine name
“Constantinople.” Erdoğan spoke angrily saying: “Don't get on my nerves. Know where you should stop. You can't make anyone living in İstanbul say Constantinople. The sons of this nation know İstanbul's name very well.” He also recalled that Atatürk, in an address, also referred to Güroymak as Norşin. Erdoğan said an unprecedented ground of consensus had been formed in Turkey for a solution to the Kurdish question.
‘We don't like spineless people'
In his speech, Erdoğan also reiterated his earlier promise that he will be running for parliamentary elections for the last time in 2011. He said: “We have backbone; we don't like spineless people. In our bylaws, it is stated that one can serve only three times in a row as deputy. 2011, if God lets me live, will be my last parliamentary candidacy. What have those who have stayed years in Parliament given the country? Look, Baykal Efendi has been there for years.”
There had also been some tension during the speech. Two people mentioned the economic crisis, and Erdoğan reacted by saying that individuals who were not members of the consultation council had also been allowed in the room.
He also expressed his anger at someone who demanded an airport in Rize, saying: “Am I supposed to build an airport on your doorstep? Investments are made where they are feasible. I won't allow investments for individual interests.”