Constitution change is priority, Erdoğan says at Turkish parliament opening
The new legislative year of the Turkish parliament began on Oct. 1 under the leadership of Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman with a ceremony where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said a constitution change should be a priority for the lawmakers.
“First we should materialize a constitution change,” he said.
“I think that the recent steps are important.”
Representatives from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have agreed on a seven-article constitutional amendment package, but the party leaders will finalize the package before it is discussed in parliament
It is a task for all continue the spirit of the Yenikapı meeting, President Erdoğan said, referring to the giant protest on Aug. 7 against the failed coup attempt on July 15, where both leaders and supporters of all three political parties in parliament gathered, only excluding the People's Democratic Party (HDP), which also does not tape part in the constitution effort.
“I believe that the parliament will repeat similar acts in the new legislative year,” Erdoğan said.
“We should make July 15 a milestone. We should struggle all togather in determination against the PKK, FETÖ and DAESH,” the president said, referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the Fethullah Gülenist Terror Organization (PKK) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
On the Euphrates Shield operation that Turkey has been carrying out in neighboring Syria to back the advance the the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Erdoğan said the target of the operation is to provide a 5,000-square-kilometer safe zone in the region.
“Thus the terror and migrants issues will be solved,” he said.
Parliament Speaker Ismail Kahraman said period of coups in Turkey is over.
Kahraman told assembled lawmakers the priority now was "to make a civilian, democratic, liberal and people-oriented constitution".
"The nation proved on the night of July 15 that they already embraced democracy and [would never allow] another such attempt," Kahraman said in his opening remarks.
He harshly criticized the plotters and described them as "a brain-washed terrorist group disguised in army uniform who targeted the existence of Turkey".
Referring to the bomb attack on the parliament during the attempted coup, he said the building was seriously damaged.
Restoration has already started, he said, adding one part would remain damaged as a "living museum."
Kahraman warned the nation against "internal and external threats" and slammed the PKK, ISIL and FETÖ.
"As the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, we will be doing our part in the right and determined fight against terrorism," he said.
About efforts on a new Turkish constitution, the parliament speaker said such a move was an expectation of the public as well as a promise by all the political parties to the nation.
The parliament, which had been in summer recess since Aug. 20, convened in the Turkish capital Ankara for its 26th legislative term.
On the first day of the new legislative session, the general assembly was to discuss the extension of the Turkish military presence in Syria and Iraq.
Such a mandate was given to the Turkish Armed Forces by parliament in 2014 and was extended for another year in September 2015. The mandate was expected to be extended for another 12 months.