Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Optimistic ‘Social-Democratic’ Political Movement Presents Policy

Members of the Turkish Degisim Hareket (TDH), or Turkish Change Movement led by Sisli Mayor Mustafa Sarigul, put forward their vision on a wide range of policies in a press conference today.

Foreign Policy

Responding to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s vision for ‘zero problems with neighbors, members of the movement reacted strongly, calling for a prioritization of Turkey’s “firm anchorage in the Euro-Atlantic community”

“When we look at the ‘zero problems’ with neighbors policy what has been the result of it? Actually we have created problems with our friends, be it Azerbaijan, be it Israel,“ said Zeynep Dereli, a founding member and vice president of the party.

While members of the TDH say they appreciate some of the steps the current government has made in foreign affairs, they believe that their approach has been flawed. Despite the recent dropping of visa requirements for travel between Syria and Turkey, Faruk Logulu, former ambassador to the United States and member of the TDH, noted that “none of the problems Turkey has with Syria have been solved,” among them border claims and water rights.

Asked how they would vote were the question of fresh sanctions on Iran to come before a vote in the UN Security Council, in which Turkey is a non-permanent member, Ms. Dereli responded that “we should vote with the Euro-Atlantic region.”

The TDH has been making a concerted effort to talk to foreign countries, visiting embassies in Ankara and European capitals. Mr. Logolu also expressed his intention of visiting Washington, while Ms. Dereli criticized the current Justice and Development Party, AKP, of letting Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union go by the wayside.

Dividing the Left?

The TDH movement intends to become a political party prior to the next elections and expects to win, according to Mr. Logulu, at least 13% of the vote. Mr. Logulu denies that the movement, which defines itself as social democratic and whose leader is an ex-member of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), will further divide the left wing constituency in Turkey.

“CHP does not seem to have the drive, the attraction, the arguments to come to power. They have not been able to succeed in significantly increasing their percentage of votes,” said Logulu.

The TDH hopes to appeal to constituents from across the political spectrum, “from left to right…nationalists and even ultranationalists,” according to Logulu. The question remains as to which political party stands to lose out most from the entrance of the TDH into the political realm- the current governing AKP or opposition parties.

“Where does this movement get its support from? The movement will get less votes from the CHP than from everybody else. In fact the movement gets more votes from the AKP than the CHP,” said Logulu. He did, however, admit that some of these numbers came from surveys conducted by pollsters close to the TDH movement.

(A portion of this article was published in Hurriyet Daily News)

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