Turkey's Gul says upset by Bahceli's remarks on Diyarbakır visit

Gül's visit to Diyarbakır in the last days of 2010 came amid nationwide discussions on autonomy and bilingualism.

Turkey's Gul says upset by Bahceli's remarks on Diyarbakır visit

World Bulletin / News Desk

President Abdullah Gül is surprised and upset over Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli's harsh criticism of Gül's recent visit to the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, the Milliyet daily reported.

Speaking at his party's parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Bahçeli accused Gül of humiliating the Turkish nation during his visit to Diyarbakır. He claimed that Gül had not shown sensitivity regarding the “indivisibility of the nation and the country.”

The president's press adviser, Ahmet Sever, relayed questions from the Milliyet daily's Fikret Bila concerning Bahçeli's statements to Gül.

Speaking to the daily, Sever said President Gül is very surprised and upset about Bahçeli's statements and his harsh language.

He said although the president was trying to strengthen the people's loyalty to the state in Diyarbakır, the failure of a party leader to see this has upset the president.

Gül's visit to Diyarbakır in the last days of 2010 came amid nationwide discussions on autonomy and bilingualism after the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) outlined its solution in a project for democratic autonomy, envisaging Kurdish as a second official language, a separate flag and a Marxist-style political model for Kurdish society. During his visit, Gül said the official language of Turkey is Turkish, in what was the president's first remark on the use of Kurdish in official institutions.

However, Bahçeli claimed the president had committed a “great offense” in Diyarbakır because he did not stand against the use of Kurdish in street signs in the region. “We wonder how he will be able to protect the honor of the Turkish Republic as he is not even aware of the placards next to him,” Bahçeli said in Parliament at his party's group meeting.

Sever said while the president is making efforts to strengthen the indivisible unity of the state and his efforts receive broad approval from all segments of the public, statements like those of Bahçeli's would not make any contribution to Turkey's unity and solidarity.

Gül was greeted in Diyarbakır by an enthusiastic crowd of residents and the city's mayor, Osman Baydemir, who hails from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). He then paid his first visit to the mayor's office, where Baydemir presented him with a Kurdish-Turkish dictionary.

Sever said Gül found it strange that Bahçeli would ignore his statement about Turkish being the only official language in Turkey and increase the debate over the issue further.

He also added the president thinks the language spoken by the locals in Turkey's Southeast is a cultural and sociological fact, and there is nothing more normal than mentioning this.

In criticism of Bahçeli's harsh discourse, Sever said: “As a person who gives much importance to the use of a moderate discourse in politics, the president thinks the esteemed Bahçeli should be more careful and sensitive when making statements about the president, who represents the nation's and the state's unity and who is the head of state.”

Last Mod: 31 Ocak 2011, 16:15
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