Former and current lawmakers from the ruling National Alliance coalition recently exchanged barbs on social media about how the 1999 government handled the disastrous earthquake and whether the current coalition has better handled the response to the Jan. 24 Elazığ earthquake.
The ruling government of ’99 was made up of a coalition between the current main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which is now the partner to the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) in the National Alliance coalition government.
Former AKP deputy Şamil Tayyar tweeted on Jan. 25, the day after the devastating 6.8-magnitude quake of Elazığ, that crisis management and coordination is important in natural disasters.
“The government collapsed during the earthquake of 1999 but it’s standing now. Except for a few provocateurs, the opposition and ruling side are united,” Tayyar said.
Current AKP lawmaker Burhan Kuzu echoed the sentiment, saying that certain opposition members are using people’s pain as a political tool, calling politicians “cruel.”
“Following the August 17  quake, the Ecevit government paid off public servant wages with the money raised for aid,” Kuzu added.
Kuzu and Tayyar are possibly referring to claims by the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) that truckloads of aid supplies they had sent to affected villages were blocked off by Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.
The minister had directed local authorities to only accept aid packages from Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Authority (AFAD), and the HDP’s trucks were turned away at their destinations.
High-level MHP deputies retaliate
In response to comments about the 1999 coalition government response, MHP Deputy Chair Hidayet Vahapoğlu said the memories of the AKP deputies may have “collapsed” and that their minds might be “lost.”
“I worked at the crisis center of the National Security Council at the time. The government didn’t collapse. The disaster of the century was managed in a way the whole world admired,” Vahapoğlu said.
MHP Deputy Chair İzzet Ulvi Yönter noted that the recovery from the 1999 disaster was a joint effort between the public and the government, and he praised MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli.
“Politicizing the earthquake is pathetic and malicious. Don’t forget that in ‘99, Devlet Bahçeli was in the government — the government couldn’t have collapsed with him there,” Yönter added.
MHP advisor Hüseyin Sözlü, Group Deputy Chairman Erkan Akçay and Deputy Chair Mevlüt Karakaya also protested the claims made by AKP lawmakers about the 1999 government.