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Turkey’s far-right leader accuses main opposition of sabotaging Russia-Ukraine talks

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Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), has accused main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu of sabotaging high-level talks between Russia and Ukraine in Turkey by visiting the predominantly Kurdish province of Diyarbakır the same day the talks were held, local media reported on Thursday.

“Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s Diyarbakır visit was an attempt to torch the search for a ceasefire and peace of the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers, who met at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum led by Turkey. … The CHP leader is the bearer of instability and cruel ambition,” Bahçeli tweeted on Thursday.

Bahçeli added that it was “people who plot the continuation of both global animosity and regional conflict” who tasked Kılıçdaroğlu with this act of “unrest” while the country was hosting a “historic meeting.”


Kılıçdaroğlu’s response on Twitter was merely a goofy looking emoji.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, met on the sidelines of a diplomatic forum in Antalya on Thursday, joined by Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Kuleba expressed frustration about the talks later on, saying that “no progress” had been achieved on even a 24-hour ceasefire.

Kılıçdaroğlu had visited Diyarbakır the same day as the talks, pledging to bring peace to the country at any cost by resolving the long-standing Kurdish issue, a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse that refers to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition.

The CHP leader’s visit came after he said in late January that real democracy can only be established in the country by settling the Kurdish issue.

“If democracy is to be [really] established in this country … the way to do it is through Diyarbakır,” Kılıçdaroğlu had said, signaling new efforts to settle the country’s long-standing problem.

Referring to Kılıçdaroğlu’s plans to visit the mother of imprisoned Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş –- the former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) –- while he was in Diyarbakır, Bahçeli also asked him whether he had plans to visit the family of Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), too.

Turkish authorities had conducted direct talks with Öcalan for over two years until the summer of 2015, when the death of two police officers near the Syrian border became the official reason for their collapse.

Since then, there have been continuing clashes between the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU, and Turkish security forces. More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK.

Both President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the far-right MHP, portray the HDP, the second-largest opposition group in parliament, as the political front of the PKK. The party denies links to the PKK and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish issue.

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