Panel set to hold make or break meeting for new charter

Panel set to hold make or break meeting for new charter

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Panel set to hold make or break meeting for new charter

Parliamentary Speaker Çiçek hosted the commission members at a dinner that ended in heated debates. AA photo

The panel responsible for shaping Turkey’s new charter will hold a new round of talks on the Constitution tomorrow despite fading hopes that the four parties in Parliament will be able to reach consensus on a document.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) has signaled that it will put an end to four-party talks at the Constitution Conciliation Commission and start looking for new options, but the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) insist on offering extra time to the panel.

Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek hosted the commission members at a dinner on April 30 that resulted in hard discussions.

“If this table is smashed, a crisis of democratic legitimacy will emerge, which will create high social costs,” the CHP’s Atilla Kart said at the meeting, according to sources.

The deadlock was due to the AKP’s insistence on replacing the current parliamentary system with a presidential system, he said, adding that the AKP wanted to continue the charter work with “other parties.”

Rıza Türmen, another panel member from the CHP, reportedly told the other members that his party would not walk out on the panel.

The MHP’s Faruk Bal and Oktay Öztürk also demanded the continuation of the efforts, arguing that the AKP wanted to end the process due to its plans for the presidential system.

The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the AKP are engaged in secret bargaining for the new Constitution, the CHP and MHP said.

However, BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş told journalists April 30 that the commission must work to its utmost capacity.

“But it does not make sense to prolong it more if it would not bring any result. The BDP is determined to stay in the commission up to the end but we are here for the formation of a new Constitution. And those who are here to prevent its formation should not be allowed to do so,” he said.

With regards to the “constitutional bargaining” claims, Demirtaş said: “So far, a negotiation or a talk regarding the Constitution has not been made between [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leaders in] İmralı, Kandil, the BDP and AKP except from those made in the Conciliation Commission. We have not discussed the [the aspects of the new] Constitution with the AKP, including the presidential system.”

AKP’s panel members Ahmet İyimaya and Mustafa Şentop also refuted the claims, while demanding an end to the talks as no items were left to discuss and no consensus had been achieved over the controversial items. Şentop said the panel has discussed 180 items so far, but agreed on only 30.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ told journalists in Ankara yesterday that his party was against providing extra time to the panel.

“Extending the time is not right. Stringing it out may result in preventing the new Constitution,” he said, accusing the opposition of attempting to hamper the charter-drafting process.

Sources told the Daily News that Çiçek was not hopeful about the fate of the panel.

Panel members were expected to discuss the process with their parties before tomorrow’s meeting.