‘AKP will not waste efforts for new charter’

‘AKP will not waste efforts for new charter’

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) will not squander the ongoing process to draw up a new constitution for Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed yesterday, adding that a cross-party compromise would require mutual concessions.

“We will not allow the process to be bogged down and all those efforts to be wasted. Compromise does not mean the imposition of one’s agenda on others. Compromise means taking steps to come closer to each other and meet at a common point,” Erdoğan told a gathering of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB).

“We will not let anybody impose their agenda on the whole nation, but we will not let the process be deadlocked either,” he said, adding that the AKP would never leave the negotiating table in Parliament’s constitution-making process. “I hope we will succeed in producing a libertarian, democratic constitution… and wrap up the process in a happy ending.”

Erdoğan said Turkey’s economic success and its objective of becoming one of the world’s 10 biggest economies by 2023 depended on the new constitution. “We have to keep the democracy pedal turning. Democracy is Turkey’s driving force.”

Speaking at the same gathering, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu cast doubt on Erdoğan’s call for conciliation, pointing to other legal arrangements that the AKP has recently passed despite harsh opposition objections.

“How did they pass the changes in the education system? Wasn’t it a fiat? Didn’t they kick our lawmakers? Didn’t they usurp our lawmakers’ right to speak?” Kılıçdaroğlu said at the same TOBB gathering, referring to the fistfights that marked the parliamentary debates on the controversial education overhaul, passed last month.

“They speak about democracy. No one can speak of democracy in a country where lawmakers elected by the people are kept in jail. A law faculty student was recently sentenced to 11 years only for wearing a checkered scarf. How do you explain this with democracy? And did they give account of the Uludere tragedy?” he said.

Erdoğan had angered the opposition parties earlier by saying that the AKP would seek a compromise with one or two of them if the parliamentary constitution-making panel fails to hammer out an all-party compromise on the new charter. His call for a shift to a presidential system has stirred up further tensions.