Demirtaş puts an end to presidential debate

Demirtaş puts an end to presidential debate

This date, April 25, will be one of the milestones of the peace process. I wish for the withdrawal of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) armed forces from Turkey to lead to total democratization that will be reflected positively across the whole country and its people. Meanwhile, what the co-chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Selahattin Demirtaş recently said in his interview with Neşe Düzel of daily Taraf has to be highlighted, in order to cleanse the shadow of the “presidential regime bargain” that has fallen over the peace and resolution process.

In the interview printed last Monday, Demirtaş totally removed concerns and left no room for doubt. He saved the peace process from being poisoned by the infection of an authoritarian presidential regime to be reached by cooperation between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the BDP. In terms of the safety of the peace process, I think that what Demirtaş said is at least as important as the announcement of the withdrawal of armed forces. The crucial part of the interview is this:

“Düzel: Under what conditions would you accept writing a Constitution with the AK Party?

Demirtaş: First, we do not consider it a correct approach to agree on all the articles of the Constitution with the AKP but disregard the expectations of all other segments of Turkey. If the AKP accepts a Constitution that takes into account the expectations of other segments, if we can write a joint Constitution that relieves everybody, and if we receive huge external support for this Constitution, then there would not be any problems. However, we would not be a pillar for an antidemocratic Constitution written with AKP pressure and the BDP’s back-up.

Düzel: What kind of pressure can there be regarding the Constitution?

Demirtaş: An example is the presidential system. The AKP has its own suggestions in the new Constitution regarding the judicial and the presidential systems. But we cannot call it ‘democratic management’ when the power to abolish the Parliament is given to one person and where the president is authorized to appoint the supreme justice. We can never accept an AKP-style presidential system.

Düzel: Why?

Demirtaş: Because the AKP does not propose a ‘presidential’ system similar to that in the United States or other democratic countries. It proposes a ‘president’ system. If these are brought before the BDP as a condition to advance in the peace process, we will not make such concessions. Its name would not be peace anyway.

Düzel: The AK Party wants to introduce the presidential system in the Constitution. Öcalan has also said he would support this presidency. What kind of a connection is there between peace and the presidential system?

Demirtaş: There is no connection. The presidential system is not a condition for peace, there cannot be such a thing. Let me say this openly as the BDP co-chair. If they write ‘autonomous Kurdistan’ in the Constitution, and if they write openly that Kurdish and mother tongue education is free, but in return write an article in the Constitution allowing for an oppressive-authoritarian presidential system, we would not say ‘yes’ to that Constitution. How can I say it more openly? Peace cannot be achieved in a country ruled by one man. Peace comes with democratization.”

What else can he say? This is it: Peace comes with democratization.

The debate on the “AKP-BDP Constitution” was necessary and was not without basis, from the point of peace costing us whatever we had left of democracy in our hands.

Demirtaş has ended this debate. Thanks.

Kadri Gürsel is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece was published on April 25. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.