New gov’t swiftly calls on opposition for making brand new constitution

New gov’t swiftly calls on opposition for making brand new constitution

New gov’t swiftly calls on opposition for making brand new constitution

Ömer Çelik, a deputy leader and spokesperson of the AKP on Nov 2, 2015. AA Photo

Creating a brand-new constitution will be one of the foremost tasks of the new government following the Nov. 1 polls, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has said.

The AKP’s call, made by party spokesman Ömer Çelik following a Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting chaired by PM Ahmet Davutoğlu late Nov. 2, found conditional support from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), which has clear reservations about a presidential system – a stated goal of the AKP.

“A new constitution is the first item of the basic policies which the AK Parti promised to Turkey. The AK Parti’s promise for a new constitution is its freshest and strongest commitment. This is ongoing,” Çelik told reporters at a press conference following the MYK meeting, using another abbreviation for the party.

“Every time, our nation is giving this instruction to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. It says: ‘Make a new constitution.’” Çelik said. “We are open to all calls from the political parties for all kinds of support, cooperation, building mechanisms and the development of mutual dialogue. From here, we are making a call again: Come, let’s make a civilian constitution that will carry Turkey to 2023.”

The first response to Çelik’s call came from CHP Secretary-General Gürsel Tekin on Nov. 3.

“If Mr. Davutoğlu has an appeal for a new constitution in Turkey, as the CHP, we would of course lend support until the end,” Tekin said at a press conference following their party’s MYK meeting chaired by their leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

“During the previous endeavor for a constitution, 61 articles were adopted and the CHP offered its contribution. Our party chair told then-Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan to bring the 60 articles to a vote. But unfortunately the table collapsed when he brought up the presidential system, which should not exist in Turkey, to the table,” Tekin said, referring to the work of a parliamentary panel at the time.

“We are in until the end if they want to build a system of law and make a constitution within universal principles and Western standards. But if they say, ‘I will add an article on the presidential system in here’ in a bid to poison this, then they should not even pass our door,” Tekin said.

Nonetheless, remarks delivered by Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan earlier on Nov. 3 displayed their party’s strong ambition to effect a transition to a presidential system from the current parliamentary system as part of efforts for conciliation on a new constitution.

“This is not about individuals. We consider the presidential system as important as a new constitution to allow Turkey to get rid of certain shackles,” Akdoğan said in an interview with the NTV news channel. He suggested that conciliation on the presidential system could be attained through “an idiosyncratic model which pays regard to Turkey’s dynamics.”

The now-dissolved Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Committee to which Tekin referred had reached consensus, in principle, on close to 60 articles, including a number of provisions regarding the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms.

Yet, the panel tasked with drafting the country’s first civilian constitution was officially dissolved in late 2013 after nearly two years of futile work. 

The current 1982 Constitution in effect is a legacy of the Sept. 12, 1980, coup. It replaced the more libertarian constitution of 1961, which also was drafted following a military coup.

Peace process could be re-launched

The stalled Kurdish peace process could be resumed if public order is guaranteed, Çelik has said, while urging that the government “will not tolerate terrorist activities.” 

“[The peace process] could be taken out of the freezer after public order is fully provided,” Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Head Ömer Çelik told reporters on Nov. 2 after a party meeting. His message came only a day after the AKP secured a comfortable election victory for a four-year governmental mandate.  

It was President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who first said that the peace process was “in the freezer,” meaning that talks with the Kurdish question-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were shelved because the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) did not fully leave Turkish territory and drop its weapons. 

“Those who are sincere on the peace process should do two things: First, they should announce that they are definitely against all sorts of terror activities. Second, those who have weapons in their hands should bury them,” Çelik said. 

“We will not tolerate harming the public order using the excuse of the peace process. Both public order and democratization will continue as elements that nourish each other,” he added.