Turkish government confident Çiçek cannot nix approval

Turkish government confident Çiçek cannot nix approval

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish government confident Çiçek cannot nix approval

This photo shows Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek (L) and Deputy PM Bekir Bozdağ during a ceremony in the Central Anatolian province of Yozgat on March 10. DHA photo

Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek said he was reading the minutes of the debate on the controversial education bill, following the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) application for a cancellation of the proceedings, while Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ insisted that Çiçek had no authority to send back the bill to the Commission.

“I’m reading the minutes [of the Parliament’s Education Commission], which consist of some 1,000 pages. Besides, I haven’t got the Commission report yet. As soon as I get it, I will evaluate the issue and take a decision,” Çiçek told reporters yesterday.

Bozdağ, however, said that after a commission debates and approves a bill, only Parliament’s General
Assembly can debate it, the Speaker’s office cannot intervene in the process.

“It’s not possible to ignore a bill that was approved by the commission. According to the Parliamentary Statute and the constitution, a bill belongs to the General Assembly as soon as it is approved by the commission. Only the General Assembly can debate it. The Parliamentary Speaker’s office and political party group chairmanships cannot intervene in the bill,” Bozdağ said yesterday.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) rushed through a bill increasing compulsory education to 12 years with 3 tiers through the Education Commission March 11, amid unprecedented fistfights after CHP lawmakers found themselves stuck at the door of the tiny room, which had been packed in advance with AKP deputies. Commission chairman Nabi Avcı took advantage of the chaos and hastily read out the remaining 20 articles of the draft, which were approved by AKP votes in half an hour. The CHP later requested that Çiçek nullify the draft’s controversial approval.

Ukraine visit canceled

In a separate development, Çiçek cancelled a planned visit to Ukraine that was scheduled to take place on March 19. He also cancelled a planned visit to Poland earlier this week, after the fistfights at the Education Commission.

In the meantime, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan defended the education bill yesterday, denying opposition parties’ claims that it was purely ideological. “This education reform is not ideological but pedagogic. It has been drafted to address economic and educational needs of a growing and modern Turkey,” Erdoğan said in his address to the Competition Board.

Recalling that the current education system was changed during the Feb. 28 process in mid-1990s, Erdoğan said: “Everybody should know that we are abolishing a regulation that was brought by tyranny through democratic means. We are fixing a regulation that was brought with the help of tanks, cannons and tanks marched in Sincan, through the people’s will at the Parliament,” he stated.