Erdogan: Turkey will continue its path towaeds development with the AK Party
Addressing campaign rallies in Ankara and Istanbul ahead of next Sunday's local elections, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued to criticize his opponents, accusing main opposition Republican People Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal of distorting the facts in order to win votes. Rebuffing Baykal's charge that Turkey has nothing to show for the debt the government has incurred since coming to power in 2002, Erdogan pointed to projects in areas such as education, healthcare, transportation, and social security. Stating that the CHP has already acknowledged its failure in the coming elections, Erdogan said that Baykal was trying to set success criteria for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) instead of tending to his own party. Criticizing the performance of CHP mayors in Istanbul in the early 1990s, Erdogan said, "The CHP doesn't know how to govern a city. Istanbulites know how the CHP ruined the city." Calling for the people to vote for better local services, not ideology, Erdogan said, "We're at the starting line of a new competition to serve Turkey. We're full of enthusiasm and excitement for March 29 (election day). Democracy will be stronger. Istanbul will be stronger. Turkey will continue with the AK Party." He also stressed that he wouldn't allow the seeds of hatred and enmity to be sown among the public. "We will continue our unity with the power we have inherited," he said. "We will not allow the seeds of enmity to grow. We will make all Turkish cities develop." Responding to opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli's criticisms that the AK Party is using state funds for campaign purposes, Erdogan rejected the charges, saying that Bahceli should account for his party's performance as part of a coalition government in the early 2000s. "You borrowed $30 billion from the International Monetary Fund, but over the last seven years we reduced this to $7.8 billion," he said. "We boosted Turkey's export revenues to $132 billion during this time, up from just $39 billion before us."