Turkish opposition asks for Lagendijk’s dismissal

A conflict with Dutch Euro MP Joost Lagendijk, chair of the Turkey commission in the European Parliament, is escalating now that the biggest opposition party in the Turkish parliament, CHP, wants Lagendijk to be removed from his position, Turkish Daily News reports. Lagendijk is blamed for having made unfounded criticism of the CHP and Turkish democracy. He himself announced recently that he would not run again as candidate for the European Parliament in the 2009 elections. The conflict started when Lagendijk earlier this month made a speech at a Turkish university, in which he harshly criticised the CHP’s anti-European stance, and said that European social-democrats – sister parties of the CHP – were sometimes exasperated by that. His words took on a life of their own, and quickly Turkish newspapers reported that Lagendijk said the CHP was a ‘disaster’ and that European social-democrats are ‘ashamed’ of the CHP.  He is blamed for criticizing the CHP on the one hand, but not the governing party AKP for forbidding a demonstration on the first of May, International Labour Day. Lagendijk in an earlier comment on the conflict to ANP: “I did criticize the AKP over the first of May ban, but those criticisms never made it into Turkish newspapers.“ So now the conflict is getting increasingly out of hand with the request by the CHP to remove Lagendijk from his post.

Within the Turkish parliament, the request gets little support. The chair of the Turkish parliament is preparing a letter to the chair of the European Parliament to express Turkey’s dissatisfaction with Lagendijk, but the letter will not ask for his dismissal. The Turkish parliament’s chair says he has no right to ask for that, and that such a request would only hurt the relationship with Europe.

(written for news agency ANP)

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