Charter row, Kurdish bid dominate Children’s Day
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Members of the Parliament join a special session where political party leaders took turns to speak over the hottest issues on the agenda. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZThe 93rd anniversary of the establishment of the Parliament offered a timely opportunity for the country’s political leaders to deliver their messages concerning both the troubled Constitution drafting process within the Parliament and the ongoing government-led peace process.
Parliament’s General Assembly convened on April 23 with a special agenda on the occasion of the 93rd anniversary of its establishment, a day marked as National Sovereignty and Children’s Day. Following a keynote speech by Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, also the head of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP); main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu; Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli; and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-leader Gültan Kışanak delivered speeches, while President Abdullah Gül was among the audience.
“We have to build our future by drawing lessons from the past. Rejecting separation and discrimination, we will defend unity and fraternity,” Çiçek said, implicitly referring to the peace process aimed at ending the three-decade long conflict between security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
According to Çiçek, drafting a new Constitution is a duty which this Parliament must accomplish during this term.
Erdoğan spoke of the Parliament’s responsibility to draw a bright future for the children. “We have grown up with [military] intervention constitutions but we and our Parliament owe giving a democratic, participatory and libertarian constitution which embraces everybody to our children,” Erdoğan said, adding that their generation grew up with terror. “But now, all of us owe giving a homeland – where they will live confidently, in fraternity and by embracing each other but not holding weapons against each other – to our children,” he said.
Bahçeli said “… demands for mother tongue and desires of autonomous administration, resolution proposals to imaginary problems have ultimately left us face-to-face with defeat and made us bow down.”
Kışanak indicated that the peace process was offering new opportunities: “Inclusiveness during the establishment of the republic is shedding light about establishing a new future together with all our colors.”
She also mentioned the need for a new Constitution; “A democratic constitution based on an understanding of pluralism, must be the connector of all colors in the society. All political parties, institutions and citizens who have this historic responsibility, must join the construction of a democratic republic.”
The controversy over eight detained deputies, who are currently behind bars and all of whom are from opposition parties, was another highlight of the plenary speeches. Refraining from touching upon the peace process as well as the Constitution, Kılıçdaroğlu asked: “Doesn’t the prestige of a parliament of which eight members are illegitimately and illegally imprisoned disappear?”
Erdoğan told reporters that he would not be able to attend a reception to be hosted by Çiçek in the evening due to his program in Istanbul this morning.