PM Erdoğan and his wife, Emine Erdoğan, wave to supporters during the presidential campaign presentation event on July 11, in Istanbul. AFP Photo / Ozan Köse
Turkish Prime Minister and presidential hopeful Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
has promised a new Constitution and strong presidency, as he vowed for the continuation of the Kurdish peace bid if elected in the upcoming elections.
“A new Constitution is among the prior items on our agenda,” Erdoğan said at a meeting on July 11 in Istanbul, where he revealed his vision for the presidential race, the first round of which will be held Aug. 10.
“A Constitution that our public will trust, meeting expectations, is a must,” he said at the meeting participated in by the media, singers and movie starts, civil society organizations, think tanks and members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“We believe and know that our public is determined and decided to succeed in what it managed 95 years ago,” he said in a reference to the foundation of the modern Republic.
“A new Constitution means a new future,” he said in a speech where he offered a distinction between what he calls the “old Turkey” and the “new Turkey” in terms of economic development, civil rights and judiciary.
“Leading [the new Constitution] will be among the things that we will lead,” he said.
The prime minister also vowed to implement a democratic understanding that would embrace all ethnic groups and beliefs. Kurdish push 'to continue'
The efforts to find the Kurdish problem a peaceful solution would also continue, he said. “If God wills and I become the president, I will keep directing the related institutions for the resolution process and sending messages that adopt this process,” he said.
Selahattin Demirtaş, the leader of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), is also running for the presidency, along with Ekmeleddin İhsanoglu, the former Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) who was appointed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
“I will be the closest watchdog of the process,” he said. “We will, inşallah [God willing], finalize this project of brotherhood together.”
The statement came at a time when the Parliament recently approved a bill, known as the resolution bill, which grants legal protection to the state officials who are involved in the process.
Erdoğan’s criticism on the vision of İhsanoğlu, who strongly defends the continuation of the current parliamentary system, signaled that he had another approach in mind, which suggests a role in the execution.
Recalling that İhsanoğlu emphasized he was not bidding to act as the head of execution, the prime minister said, the president is the head of the Turkish state according to the Constitution.
The Turkish president will be elected by the people, not the Parliament, for the first time.
The prime minister once against hit at the Fettullah Gülen movement, what he calls a “parallel structure.”
The government and the U.S.-based Islamist scholar have been at odds since the start of a large graft probe on Dec. 17, 2013, as the prime minister blames Gülenists for the operation that also engulfed some Cabinet ministers and their sons.
Promising to boost efforts for a stronger democracy, Erdoğan said “We will improve the democratic reforms, which we have already succeeded at, removing the ruins of the former mono-typical, parallel ruins,” he said.