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Turkey: Erdogan accuses opposition CHP of treason over objection to Gulf investors

CHP head Kemal Kilicdaroglu tweeted angrily about Saudi and Qatari investment in Turkish state projects
Turkey's President and leader of the Justice and Development (AK) Party Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during his party’s group meeting at the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) in Ankara, on May 18, 2022. (AFP)
Turkey's President Erdogan delivers a speech at the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara, on 18 May 2022 (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Istanbul, Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday accused the leader of the main opposition party of treason, for threatening Gulf investors who are buying properties in Turkey

Erdogan said on Wednesday that Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), had been running a campaign against foreign investors and public servants.

“For [the CHP], Germans, Americans and others aren’t the foreigners but Arabs are,” he said. “They have the inferiority complex to such a degree that they detest everything about our civilisation but they unconditionally admire the West, whose past is full of exploitation and blood.” 

The CHP claims that Emirati investors, specifically Abu Dhabi airport, are involved in plans to purchase shares from the newly built Istanbul airport, which was heavily criticised by the opposition as a waste of funds and resources. The CHP says Erdogan’s government is in a rush to demolish the old Ataturk Airport to make Arab investment in the new airport more sound and profitable. Demolition work started at Ataturk airport earlier this week - to turn it into a public park while preserving one of the runways. 

“So, are we going to let their Qatari or Saudi Arabian accomplices breathe?” Kilicdaroglu tweeted in Turkish on Monday. “Do they think they can be comfortable here? Don't they know that we will get the value of the destroyed Ataturk Airport from the gangs, their political leg and foreign accomplices?” 

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Kilicdaroglu continued in Arabic: “Anything made by stealing people's money cannot be sold to your side. If there is a crime committed against state funds, we will not turn a blind eye to any of the perpetrators, even if it is you. If you think of coming, know this well.” 

Erdogan said Kilicdaroglu had issued his first ever message in Arabic to threaten the Gulf investors.

“The world is trying to attract the Gulf capital day and night, but these people are trying to kick the Gulf capital out of our country,” he added. “Blocking the investments in our country is treason.” 

In the same speech, Erdogan blamed the CHP for rallying the public against Syrian refugees and said his government will continue to host them and show no tolerance for racism.

Turkey currently hosts 3.7 million Syrian refugees and 1.7 million other foreign nationals, in the midst of a currency crisis. Last summer saw a spate of communal violence in big cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, as Syrian businesses and refugees were attacked.

The CHP has spearheaded the increasingly hostile anti-Syrian rhetoric. Despite his left-liberal political stance, Kilicdaroglu has promised to send Syrians back to their country if he is elected president in 2023. He later said he wouldn't compel but encourage Syrians to return, by striking a deal with the Syrian government and preparing necessary conditions. 

Umit Ozdag, a right-wing politician and the chairman of the Victory Party, has created a media buzz in recent months by promising to send millions of Syrians, Afghans and Pakistanis back to their countries. 

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