I have a new plan for a new charter: Turkish PM

I have a new plan for a new charter: Turkish PM

Eyüp Serbest – ISTANBUL
I have a new plan for a new charter: Turkish PM

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Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said he has a new roadmap for the creation of a new constitution as well as no reservations about thoroughly discussing the terms of a new charter in separate meetings with opposition leaders.

Noting he would present a draft plan for a new constitution that takes into account civilian liberties and all citizens’ interest, he said, “I have a clear draft plan [for a new charter] in mind, however, this draft is open to discussion,” speaking at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport ahead of a flight to Serbia early Dec. 28. 

The Turkish premier said he had no prejudices toward the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) about discussing the terms of a new constitution in a Dec. 30 meeting with main opposition CHP head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and in a Jan. 4, 2016, meeting with nationalist leader Devlet Bahçeli. 

“I invited to Istanbul on Saturday all lawmakers [within the Justice and Development Party] who took part in the formation process of the then-new constitution in 2011. I heard the story of what we had been through during the constitution workshops both in 2007 and 2011. We have no prejudice toward Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu and Mr. Bahçeli. We will discuss methods [to form a new constitution] with no reservation in meetings with Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu and Mr. Bahçeli,” the Turkish PM said.

Davutoğlu stressed the spirit of a constitution was the focal point of its content and said “we should agree first on spirit.”

“I will be sharing a roadmap to form a constitution that will be libertarian, human-oriented and respectful to citizens’ interests,” Davutoğlu said.

Davutoğlu stated that all lawmakers including himself were temporary in politics and stressed the importance of the creation of a constitution to be used for decades, while also recalling the need to create a new parliamentary model.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Davutoğlu and other leading figures of the AKP have long made no secret of their desire for a presidential system that would equip Turkey’s presidency with enhanced and uncontrolled powers, prompting anger from the opposition.

Erdoğan has previously argued for the need for a systematic change in Turkey’s governing system and underscored that his aspiration for a presidential system had nothing to do with his personal prosperity.

“My duty as the president is to pave the way for the progress of my country and nation in every field,” he said. “While we are saying ‘New Turkey,’ ‘new constitution’ and ‘the presidential system should be discussed,’ we are not at all saying these things by considering our own personal prosperity,” he added in Konya on Dec. 17.

“Let’s make such a constitution and create a parliamentary system that they will remain robust for 50 years and our grandchildren will have no trouble with governing the country,” Davutoğlu said.
“We need to make a constitution with no subjective concerns and no conditions, avoiding any sort of prejudices,” he added.

Davutoğlu’s statements came less than a week after the Turkish premier called on the leaders of all opposition parties, including the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), to engage in dialogue on the preparation to forge a new constitution with the opposition parties in three separate meetings.

“Yesterday, I requested an appointment to meet with opposition party leaders. I hope that we can share a mutual understanding,” Davutoğlu said in a speech on Dec. 23.

The premier, however, canceled the planned meeting with the HDP, stating that its politics are rooted in violence, dashing faint hopes of greater parliamentary cooperation amid continued clashes in the southeast.
In remarks published on Dec. 26, an HDP deputy said there would be little to talk about with Davutoğlu as long as clashes and curfews continue in southeastern Turkey.

“Quite apart from the fundamental right to life, if the prime minister visits us without recognizing the people’s right to breathe and their right to bury their loved ones, then he will only be offered to a cup of ‘Kaçak Çay’ and then leave,” HDP Ankara deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder told reporters, referring to Davutoğlu’s meeting with the HDP’s co-leaders scheduled for Dec. 30. 

The prime ministry in response released a written statement announcing the cancelation of the meeting with HDP scheduled for Dec. 30.

“Statements delivered by HDP executives in the last week are a reflection of a shallow political stance that is diametrically opposed to this understanding, is aimed at polarizing the country, is far from the minimum political kindness, does not comply with our nation’s ancient culture of living together and appeals to conflict and tension,” said the written statement released on Dec. 26.

“With this approach, HDP executives have once more displayed that they don’t have the maturity to consider politics as a tool for solving problems. There is no sense anymore in meeting with this unstylish approach and sharing the same table,” it said.