Parties agree to speed up new charter work

Parties agree to speed up new charter work

Hüseyin Hayatsever / Göksel Bozkurt ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Parties agree to speed up new charter work

Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek (L) shakes hands with Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu ahead of a meeting on charter panel. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek affirmed yesterday that all four political party leaders commonly agree that maximum efforts should be made in order to finalize the drafting of the new Constitution.

The Constitution-making process should be finalized “within a reasonable” time, Çiçek stressed, without pronouncing a certain deadline, while opposition leaders said that a time limit should not be imposed on the charter panel.

 “We are at the point of no return [regarding the Constitution-making process] at the moment. We have to finalize it by any means. Of course we cannot scribble the new Constitution hastily, but we have to finalize it within a reasonable time. An open-ended negotiation process would lead to a negative impression,” Çiçek told reporters following talks with opposition leaders.

Having already met separately with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli before the new year, Çiçek spoke yesterday with the leaders of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), as part of a tour to meet the leaders of Turkey’s four main parties in Parliament with the aim of reviving dwindling hopes of drafting a long-anticipated new Constitution despite a looming deadline.

Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission held its first meeting of 2013 yesterday, even though the commission was originally scheduled to finalize its work by Dec. 31, 2012. However, due to fierce debates and pointed disagreements over fundamental parts of the Constitution, the process has become bogged down and thrown off schedule. The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) insistence on its presidential system proposal also led to a deadlock in the panel work as the opposition asked the AKP to withdraw its proposal.

As a result of Çiçek’s visits to leaders, all four parties have reportedly agreed that the commission would continue its work by putting the AKP’s presidential system proposal in parentheses. In cases of disagreement, related articles are written with red lines from the four parties, in other words, with reservations and parentheses.

Çiçek said the panel has debated 71 constitutional articles up to now and reached a consensus on 23 articles. “If there’s no agreement on an article, we put [differences] into parentheses on the condition of renegotiation. We should discuss the following articles with the same method,” Çiçek said.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said that the executive and political parties should not interfere in the constitution-making process by setting a deadline on the Parliamentary Constitution Reconciliation Commission. “Mr. Prime Minister, as well as us, have already mentioned a reasonable time, however, we did not impose a time limit. Çiçek said that they would finalize their work within a reasonable time,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

The CHP had the impression that the “reasonable time” Çiçek referred to is the end of March or beginning of April, according to information gathered from CHP sources.

During the meeting, CHP officials reminded Çiçek that last year’s bid to secure the release of jailed lawmakers failed due to the refusal of the AKP. Çiçek reportedly said that issue of jailed lawmakers will be debated as part of a constitutional article on parliamentary immunity.

BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, meanwhile, said the charter panel should not work under time pressure. “‘Reasonable time’ is subject to change according to political developments. The Constitution-making process should not be open-ended, we don’t have a couple of years for the new Constitution, but the commission should not work under a two or three-month time pressure either,” Demirtaş told reporters after meeting with Çiçek.

The BDP also raised the issue of imprisoned deputies and highlighted the uneasiness of BDP voters, with Demirtaş saying, “The environment outside influences the Constitution commission table.”