New charter talks start with panel’s first meeting

New charter talks start with panel’s first meeting

New charter talks start with panel’s first meeting

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The Turkish Parliament is set to launch a fresh initiative as an inter-party commission will meet for the first time on Feb. 4 with the task of writing a new charter, nearly two years after failing to do so. 

Parliamentary Speaker İsmail Kahraman will chair the meeting as the four parties in the legislature will be represented by three members each. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will be represented by former Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek, Parliament Justice Commission head Ahmet İyimaya and AKP Secretary-General Abdulhamit Gül, while the main opposition party Republican People’s Party (CHP) has announced deputy leader Bülent Tezcan, Ömer Süha Aldan and Namık Havutça as its representatives. 

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) appointed lawmakers Garo Paylan, Meral Danış Beştaş and Mithat Sancar, while the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will be represented by deputy leader Oktay Öztürk and lawmakers Mehmet Parsak and Kadir Koçdemir. 

The first meeting of the parliamentary commission will focus on shaping the road map of the panel works with particular emphasis on the duration of its mandate and whether the decisions should be taken unanimously. Although the four political parties have similar positions on the need to take decisions unanimously, they differ on the duration of the panel works. 

The AKP insists that the panel should have a six-month mandate, while the MHP favors a year-end deadline.

Both the CHP and HDP stress that the panel should be given enough time to conclude its work. 

Although the four political parties agree on the need for a new constitution that would promote human rights, freedoms and democracy, the AKP’s insistence on the adoption of a presidential system stands as the main hurdle before the commission work as proven in earlier attempts. 

A Parliamentary Conciliation Commission was first established in the aftermath of the 2011 elections but had to be dissolved in late 2013 because of sharp disagreements on the change of the system. The commission succeeded in writing 60 articles, and the four parties have agreed to retain them as part of the present undertaking.

New mentality needed

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the AKP had established a commission within the party under his leadership to follow the commission works while underlining that “we should bring about a new mentality along with the new constitution.” 

“This is a process of reconciliation. This should be seen as a process to increase the points of agreements. I believe the other parties will contribute in a serious, inclusive way and in line with the conciliatory spirit of the commission,” he said.  

Davutoğlu reiterated the AKP’s support for the adoption of the presidential system and expressed his expectation that the other parties would conduct a comprehensive debate on the issue. 

“But this debate should not be personalized. Above all, turning this debate into a personal matter and placing our president into the middle of it by targeting him would constitute treason against the making of the new constitution,” he said.

Presidential system should not be on table: CHP

But CHP spokeswoman Selin Sayen Böke urged the government not to bring the presidential system to the commission table as they would not permit this administrative change in line with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ambition to rule Turkey “in one-man form.”

“This discussion on the new constitution should be developed within the parliamentary system. The presidential system should not be brought to the table,” she said. 

The most important thing is the need to build a pro-freedom democracy in Turkey, and the new constitution is only one of the tools to this end, Böke said. 

“Simultaneously with the start of the commission works, necessary steps for the removal of junta-made laws should immediately be taken. A constitutional safeguard stipulates the freedom of press but can we talk of that today?”