Turkey's main opposition warns government on charter method

Turkey's main opposition warns government on charter method

Hüseyin Hayatsever VAN – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkeys main opposition warns government on charter method

AA photo

Main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has warned that a parliamentary drive to rewrite Turkey’s Constitution could become meaningless if the government refuses to review the 26 constitutional amendments approved during last year’s referendum.

The head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) challenged Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to publicly confirm media reports that he was against discussing last year’s amendments, which the opposition blames for having placed the judiciary under government control.

“[Erdoğan] should come forward and make a statement. If he makes such a statement, then there will be no need to sit at the table” for negotiations on the new charter, Kılıçdaroğlu said in an interview with the Hürriyet Daily News during a visit to Van over the weekend.

“The common wish of all parties is more democracy and more freedoms. And what does more democracy mean? It’s the full separation of the three powers, the balance between the executive, legislative and judicial branches,” he added.

The CHP “does not wish to give negative messages” at a time when the cross-party Constitution Conciliation Commission is just beginning its work, but Turkey needs to embrace the standards of Western democracy, Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Kılıçdaroğlu urged the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to heed opposition demands for supplementary reforms to amend the much-criticized anti-terror law, reduce the 10 percent election threshold, expand media freedoms and abolish the special-authority courts “if it is sincere on democracy and freedoms.”

In comments on an exchange of letters with Erdoğan over allegations of an extensive bribery network at the government-controlled Kayseri Municipality, Kılıçdaroğlu said the prime minister was covering up fraud.

“If prosecutors in Kayseri launch an investigation into high-level municipality officials, will the prime minister apologize to me? He is feeding the corrupt. He is covering up the corruption and we are trying to uncover it,” he said.

Kılıçdaroğlu described the harsh tone of Erdoğan’s letter, made public on the weekend, as “suitable for him but not one that the prime minister of Turkey should be using.”

Referring to the Kurdish conflict, Kılıçdaroğlu said the government should take responsibility for the escalating violence and come up with a proposal for a settlement. “We have to sit down and produce a solution. We should not use the issue for political ends. Exploiting the issue for domestic politics amounts to treason,” he said. “The mothers whose children are in the mountains and the mothers whose sons fell as martyrs have both shown Turkey that they are united in their hearts.”

Erdoğan has become ‘sub-contractor’

The CHP leader also fired at the government’s attitude on regional problems, charging that Ankara had become a tool of Western designs in the Middle East and was shaping its policies under U.S. pressure.

“We do not want Turkey to become the sub-contractor of Western powers in the Middle East. We should know that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is today the sub-contractor of Western powers in the Middle East,” he said.

Referring to a warm hug between U.S. President Barack Obama and Erdoğan at last week’s G-20 summit in Cannes, Kılıçdaroğlu said: “Obama embraced him because he got from him everything he wanted. [Obama] told him not to interfere in Greek Cypriot gas exploration in the Mediterranean and that’s what he did. Obama told him to use a stick with Syria and he complied. What happened to the aid that was supposed to be taken to the Gaza Strip under the escort of warships? He was told he cannot do that and he bowed down.”

Kılıçdaroğlu said Ankara had no independent foreign policy. “Is there any policy they have developed by themselves? They spoke about zero problems with neighbors. The zero problem policy has been found bankrupt,” he said.

In response to criticism that the CHP was backing the oppressive Baath regime in Syria, Kılıçdaroğlu said his party favored democratization but was against foreign intervention in the country.

“We want a speedy democratization, a multi-party system and a free press in Syria. And we want these even more for Turkey. Demands for more democracy are being raised for Turkey as well, and we support them. But we would certainly resist if France were to send its warplanes there,” he said.

Kılıçdaroğlu also urged the Foreign Ministry to make a “satisfactory explanation” on media reports that Syrian military defectors taking shelter in refugee camps in the southern province of Hatay were organizing armed attacks inside Syrian territory on forces loyal to the regime.

“We support democracy and broader freedoms in Syria, but we cannot approve then if a few people are being given military training and are then being sent there,” he said.