Erdoğan, Çiçek meet on charter timetable

Erdoğan, Çiçek meet on charter timetable

Erdoğan, Çiçek meet on charter timetable

Parliament Speaker Çiçek meets OM Erdoğan to discuss new Constitution. AA photo

With only five weeks remaining until the expiration of the mandate for the parliamentary panel tasked with writing the new Constitution, and with only a limited number of articles agreed upon, the Parliament speaker and the prime minister have agreed to step up the panel’s work. 

Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek hosted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and deputy leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Mehmet Ali Şahin over lunch yesterday to discuss the work of the Constitution Conciliation Commission. Çiçek and Erdoğan reportedly agreed to show flexibility for a couple more weeks if the prospect of reaching a consensus draft emerges.

“The panel can work in a more speedy way. Its working hours can be increased. It could push the limits to draft a joint text by the end of March. The Commission should get a move on,” Erdoğan told Çiçek, according to sources familiar with their meeting. Erdoğan signaled that he might give a green light for the extension of the Commission’s mandate by the end of April, if there was the prospect of producing a consensus draft. 

More efficient work

Çiçek joined Erdoğan in expressing his wish for the panel’s success within its mandated period. Şahin said the Commission could work more efficiently. “The panel could work more than it’s doing now. If needed, we could work over weekends and until midnight. We’re pinched for time. Both our Parliament speaker and prime minister are expecting good results from the panel. And we can observe this pressure on us,” he told reporters after the meeting, adding that work could be completed within the timetable if they postponed the chapter on the judiciary. When reminded of the Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) proposal to end the Commission’s work by April 23, marking the date of the establishment of the Turkish Parliament in 1920, Şahin said they had no problem in extending the mandate. 

“We won’t object to extending the works until April if we observe a serious improvement in the panel’s works,” he said. With regard to the AKP’s plans to adopt a presidential system, which is seen as the most significant obstacle in front of the panel, Şahin echoed other ruling party officials who stressed that they would not be insistent in their calls if all parties could agree on all other articles of the charter. 

“We’ll give up on the presidential system if a comprehensive consensus can be reached among parties,” he said. Meanwhile, the Constitution Conciliation Commission discussed how to reschedule its working hours. The commission decided to “intensely work,” – from 10.00 a.m. to 07p.m. on five days a week. The main opposition Republican People’s Party has criticized the government for imposing time pressure on the panel.