Constitution Commission faces critical days ahead

Constitution Commission faces critical days ahead

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Constitution Commission faces critical days ahead

Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek met with Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahçeli on Dec 29 to talk on the process of preparing a new charter. AA photo

Headlocked over the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) persistence on its presidential system proposal, as well as over deadline pressure, Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission will today hold its first meeting of 2013, despite originally being scheduled to finalize its work by Dec. 31, 2012.

Also today, Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek is set to hold talks with main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, having already met separately with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli before the new year.

If today’s meetings fail to yield the fruit of compromise among the related parties, one possible option for the AKP is to move to build bilateral cooperation with willing opposition parties. Nonetheless, all three opposition parties have declared that they will not leave the table.

Speaking to reporters on Dec. 31, Kılıçdaroğlu expressed hope for the future of the Constitution-drafting process.

When reminded of Erdoğan’s statement suggesting that the AKP would not withdraw its presidential system proposal, Kılıçdaroğlu said: “Maybe, it’s his opinion. That proposal has come and if there is no conciliation it will remain a clause within parentheses anyway.” The CHP leader’s words indicated that work on the rest of the Constitution could be continued if the presidential system proposal was excluded.

Never without hope

“I’ve never been without hope,” Kılıçdaroğlu said when reminded of his scheduled meeting with Çiçek and when asked whether he was still hopeful for a new Constitution. “We should of course write the Constitution. We should make a more modern, more civilized, more libertarian and more democratic constitution. For this, we should sit around the table, talking and discussing freely. If we can display our will to write a constitution in line with the society’s expectations, this will certainly happen after a while,” he added.

“We should not set a time limit concerning the Constitution. We should not adopt a rule saying: ‘The constitution will change within this time.’ We should be more flexible, creating the grounds for discussion. Society, universities, civil society and professional organizations should be involved in discussions, because what we are writing is a Constitution that will carry our children to the future … That’s why we should not waste efforts by getting trapped in a narrow zone,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.