Opposition willing to resume charter talks

Opposition willing to resume charter talks

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Opposition willing to resume charter talks

Cemil Çiçek (R) shakes hands with Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahçeli following their meeting on the Constitution process. Çiçek visited leaders of all major opposition parties, including Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Ahead of a key meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that will take place today, Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek met with all three opposition parties represented in Parliament yesterday in a bid to revive the stalled Constitution-writing process. All of those opposition parties declared their will not to be the party that “leaves the table.”

During the meetings with the leaders, Çiçek also reiterated his regret of the slow pace of the Constitution-making process.

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli said his party would not walk away from the negotiation table in Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission, formed to draft a new Constitution, speaking to reporters after his meeting with Çiçek.

“The way for the commission to proceed is to continue to meet. Loping off is not a solution. If parties with different ideas managed to reach a consensus on 48 articles within 440 days, there is benefit in waiting for the others with patience too. The MHP will not leave the commission. If there is anyone who wants to leave the table, it is those parties’ own business,” he said.

Bahçeli also reiterated that their “red lines,” especially the irrevocability of certain articles of the Constitution and the definition of Turkish citizenship, are still non-negotiable.

41 articles

During the meeting with Bahçeli, Çiçek complained about the slowness of the process. He noted that the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) presidential system proposal was blocking the debate of 41 articles in total only in the executive, legislative and administrative sections, while some 19 articles had been written with reservations from the AKP, sources told the Hürriyet Daily News. Thus, those articles could not even be debated, Çiçek said, according to the same sources.

Bahçeli pointed at the importance of having all four parties on board, sources said.

“We must persistently continue to meet. This ground should not be disrupted. Especially while there are secret agendas, a secretively carried out negotiation process, the ground where four the parties come together must not be lost. We should not let them say ‘the commission has failed’ against these secret bargains. At the same time, nobody must make use of this,” Bahçeli was quoted by the sources as telling Çiçek.

Bahçeli also noted that after two years of work, the commission should not be deemed “unsuccessful” for not yielding any results. “There is no use in being impatient. Let us continue with persistence and patience,” Bahçeli said, as he suggested that the agreed articles must be kept in a “democracy pool” to be re-evaluated after the elections. Both co-chairs of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Gültan Kışanak and Selahattin Demirtaş, complained about the slow pace of work at the commission, however, they also said they would not leave the commission.