MHP leader blasts Russia as ill-intentioned following sanctions

“The Russian government is definitely not right and is ill-intentioned. The [Russian] demand for an apology and reparations is scandalous,” MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said on Tuesday.

A Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian Su-24 near the Turkish border in Syria last week, as the Russian jet purportedly violated Turkish airspace despite several warnings.

Russia, which denies that its jet violated Turkish airspace, demands an apology and reparations from Turkey.

Underlining that Turkey has the right to defend its borders according to international law, Bahceli said at his party’s parliamentary group meeting that the measures Russia has recently put in place, such as the detention of Turkish businessmen in Russia, is a sign of dangerous polarization between the two countries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin approved economic sanctions against Turkey on Saturday, the extent of which reveals Russia’s anger toward Turkey for shooting down its plane.

Some of the sanctions include: Russian employers will not be permitted to employ Turkish citizens as of the beginning of the next year; an import ban will be imposed on some Turkish products, including agricultural products; Russian travel agencies will no longer organize tours to Turkey and charter flights to Turkey have also been banned.

Bahceli also accused Russia of planning to fortify its presence in the Middle East by increasing tensions with Turkey.

The MHP leader maintained that Russia’s bombing of Turkmens near the Turkish border is aimed at ethnic cleansing in the region.

The Russian jet was bombing Turkmen rebels fighting against the Syrian government when it was shot down.

Arguing that Russia has no reason to be near the Turkish border in Syria, Bahceli said, “Nobody will remain silent in the face of an attempt at ethnic cleansing targeting Turkmens. … Our position is the side of Turkey and [defending] its interests.”

Bahceli said 82 Turkmens were killed in recent assaults by government forces that are backed by Russian air support.

“Against Russia, we side with our nation,” Bahceli said, noting that the issue now has to do with the survival of the nation.

Bahceli said he has doubts about the worth of the recent deal Turkey signed with the EU that pledges, in return for dozens of steps to be taken by Turkey, to lift visa requirement for Turkish citizens traveling to the EU.

“There is a price for the promises the EU made to Turkey. That’s turning Turkey into a detention camp.”

In a summit on Sunday, the EU pledged to lift visa requirements while speeding up talks on Turkey’s accession to the union in return for halting the flow of refugees to the union via Turkey.

Ogan cannot run for chairmanship, Bahceli says

In remarks to reporters following his speech, Bahceli said one of the three contenders for the MHP chairmanship cannot legally run for the post.

Although Bahceli cited no name, his remarks revealed that he meant Sinan Ogan, a former MHP deputy who recently announced his candidacy.

Bahceli said: “It is not possible for one of them to become a candidate. He was expelled [from the party]. His case is still in the Supreme Court of Appeals.”

Ogan was expelled from the party by Bahceli in August, but legally returned on Nov. 2 after securing a court order.

Bahceli argued that Ogan cannot be considered a member of the MHP until the Supreme Court of Appeals rules on the case.

Former MHP deputies Meral Aksener, Koray Aydın and Ogan recently announced they would run for chairman.

Bahceli also claimed, without citing any name, that one of the candidates is supported by the Gulen movement.

One of the candidates is a political figure assigned by the Gulen movement, Bahceli said.

There was speculation in the Turkish media that the candidate Bahceli hinted at may be Aksener.

Arguing that such an attempt would serve no one, including the candidate, the MHP leader said, “Everybody should come to his senses.”

Bahceli’s claim was dismissed by Fethullah Gulen’s lawyer, Nurullah Albayrak, in a written statement the same day.

The statement said Gulen is in no way involved in such an attempt: “Mr. Gulen, nor anyone acting on behalf of Gulen, took a step to assign [someone] in the MHP or any other party.

“We hope that the unjust and groundless assessment will be corrected,” the statement added.

Aksener denied, in a statement on the Oda TV news portal, any links with the Gulen movement, also called the Hizmet (service) movement, stressing that she would not act under the instructions of any group.

Gulen, who is an inspiration for sympathizers of the Gulen movement, is a Turkish Islamic scholar who preaches tolerance and interfaith dialogue.