LETTER TO LOS ANGELES TIMES FROM AK PARTI VICE CHAIRMAN BAGIS
"AK Party's legitimacy and devotion to democracy in Turkey is as strong as the statute of liberty in USA"
Egemen Bagis, Vice Chairman of AK Party and a member of the Turkish parliament representing Istanbul criticized the claims published on Los Angeles Times stating that Turkey has become closer to Iran and become less interested in joining the EU.
Bagis quoted in his letter "as Mark Twain said: there are 3 kinds of lies: ‘lies, damn lies and statistics.' Distorted allegations about my party and my country go into the last category. In self-proclaimed Turkey expert Soner Cagaptay's article it is also stated that Turks have become more anti-American."
Bagis said: "Contrary to Cagaptay's distorted statistics, many Turks support the U.S. One recent poll found that 58% of Turks think that the U.S. image has improved in Turkey since Washington started providing intelligence for Turkish military operations against the PKK terrorists in northern Iraq. Turks always appreciate and reciprocate friendship."
"Cagaptay's claim that Turkey is closer to Iran, and then citing that only 28% of Turks have a favorable view of that country, shows what a farce that figure is. Then where's the remaining electorate? Let me give you the breakdown: Fifty percent is our current electoral support, and if our party is banned, 62% is the minimum vote we'll get in the first election afterward."
"As for the AK Party's credentials, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said, ‘In a normal European democracy, political issues are debated in parliament and decided in the ballot box, not in the courtroom. ... It is difficult to see that this lawsuit respects the democratic principles of a normal European society.'"
"Similarly, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said that the AK Party government was made up of ‘profound European reformers' and that the prosecutor's action ‘takes the concept of the bizarre application of laws to astronomical heights.' He added, ‘We all know there are those who are trying to break things down and have extremely exaggerated, extremely inflated fears for the future of the secular character of Turkish society.'"
Bagis also said: "AK Party's legitimacy and devotion to democracy in Turkey is as strong as the statute of liberty in USA. Turks have been Muslims for about 1,300 years. This happened long before the AK Party government. We are only upgrading the country's democratic standards against those who believe that the nation does not deserve an advanced democracy. The parliament's vote for allowing head scarves at universities is nothing but securing basic individual freedoms for female students who have been treated as third-class citizens and banned from universities for their religious garb."