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    CHP boycotts Turkish pres in Republic Day celebrations

    HotNewsTurkey Staff
    30 Ekim 2008 - 11:39Son Güncelleme : 30 Ekim 2008 - 15:24

    Turkey’s main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) did not attend Republic Day celebrations held at parliament on Wednesday in protest to President Abdullah Gul. The Democratic Left Party (DSP) joined the boycott of the ceremony.

    CHP leader Deniz Baykal and DSP leader Zeki Sezer were absent from the ceremony.

     

    Only the CHP's Antalya deputy, Tuncay Emek, was present but left parliament without shaking Gul's hand. Sources say Baykal held a meeting with a group of deputies at CHP’s central Ankara office during the ceremony.

     

    CHP also protested the reception hosted by Gul at the presidential palace. CHP deputy Sukru Elekdag was the only party member to attend the ceremony, but said he was there as a retired ambassador, not as a representative of his party.

     

    "Under these conditions when the values of the republic are eroded and corrupted, celebrations other than Anitkabir's (the Mausoleum of Ataturk, the founder of the modern Republic of Turkey) visit do not carry any meaning ascribable to Republic Day," said Deniz Baykal in a written statement on Wednesday expounding on his boycott.

     

    Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan said the ceremony was about the republic, not the president, when asked about CHP's stance. "CHP members should be asked why they did not attend the ceremony. I think they will give a reasonable answer," he added.

     

    Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan; leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Devlet Bahceli; leader of the Grand Unity Party (BBP), Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu; and Democratic Society Party (DTP) member Sirri Sakik joined the ceremony.

     

    Commanders of the armed forces also attended the celebration, except for Land Forces Commander Gen. Isik Kosaner and Gendarmarie Commander Gen. Atilla Isik. The presidents of the highest courts and representatives of the military and the diplomatic and civil bureaucracy were also among those in attendance.

     

    The CHP initially decided on a boycott after Gul was elected as president last year. Baykal visited Ataturk's Mausoleum during last year's celebrations but did not attend the ceremony at parliament. However, the CHP group vice presidents had participated in the ceremony and shook Gul's hand.

     

    ERDOGAN'S MESSAGE FOR DTP
    The prime minister, who attended an inaugural ceremony for the new underpasses and overpasses in the capital, said what would carry the republic ahead was not conflict or tension.

     

    "Those aiming to start war between brothers today cannot see that this society coalesced when people thought it was all up," said Erdogan in a disguised message to the DTP, often associated with recent tension in the country’s southeast.

     

    "We want to achieve a democratic, secular, social state with rule of law as stated in the constitution. This cannot be achieved by favoring one of those principles but by embracing them all. There are people who want to trick us on this, but we will not be tricked," he added.

     

    Photo: AA

     

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