Charter talks to intensify after a two-week hiatus

Charter talks to intensify after a two-week hiatus

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Charter talks to intensify after a two-week hiatus

Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek says the parliamentary panel tasked with preparing a new constitution has agreed to intensify the work on writing the articles.

Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission has agreed to hasten work after a two-week break, with Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek saying that they had to intensify their efforts in order to complete work on the draft in time.

“We have an obligation to draft a new constitution. Our works are ongoing, but we have to speed up ... We held a meeting with our [charter commission] members and agreed to intensify our works,” Çiçek told reporters on Oct. 19 in Konya.

Following a two-week recess, the joint parliamentary commission for drafting the new charter gathered on Oct. 18 in the absence of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) lawmakers.

During the meeting, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies criticized the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for interrupting the commission works due to internal disagreements over the constitutional definition of citizenship. Charter commission members from the CHP were not able to resolve their disagreements over the constitutional definition of citizenship, causing a two-week delay in the commission.

The CHP’s proposed article on citizenship has not been drafted for two months, due to Süheyl Batum’s insistence on the inclusion of the notion of “Turkishness” in the party’s proposal. However, Atilla Kart and Rıza Türmen objected to this stance. Batum, Kart and Türmen are all representing the CHP at the Commission.

However, Kart reportedly rebuffed the AKP’s criticism and said that dozens of constitutional articles could have been discussed at the Commission apart from the definition of citizenship.

Erdoğan’s intervention
CHP lawmakers also accused Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of meddling with the Commission’s work by setting a deadline. Erdoğan outlined a schedule for the ongoing work of the charter commission earlier this month, setting a deadline for the end of 2012.

“Mr. Prime Minister aims to block the commission’s works with this statement. This is unacceptable,” Kart said.

Çiçek said Erdoğan’s goal was not to pressure the Commission, but to set a target. “[Erdoğan’s] statements do not aim to influence anybody, he set a target. We are behind our schedule, we have to speed up,” Çiçek told Commission members.

Türmen argued that the AKP’s efforts to reschedule the local elections and make major amendments to the municipal bill are torpedoing the atmosphere of reconciliation for charter work and called on Çiçek to prevent such actions. Çiçek said he could not refuse the proposals submitted by the AKP.