Turkish PM calls on parties to talk on new charter

Turkish PM calls on parties to talk on new charter

Turkish PM calls on parties to talk on new charter

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Around two months after his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power with a sweeping victory in the Nov. 1 snap elections, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has called on leaders of opposition parties to get involved in dialogue over the preparation to forge a new constitution.

“Yesterday, I requested an appointment to meet with opposition party leaders. I hope that we could share a mutual understanding and spend the next four years criticizing each other and politically competing when necessary, yet keeping the state’s benefits above all the political ones at the end during this period,” Davutoğlu said in his speech on Dec. 23, while attending a collective opening ceremony hosted by the Forestry and Water Affairs Ministry.

Leaders of all opposition parties represented in parliament in line with the results of the Nov. 1 snap election responded affirmatively to Davutoğlu’s request, which was conveyed late on Dec. 22.

Accordingly, Davutoğlu is set to meet main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Dec. 30 at 1:00 p.m. and with the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) co-chairs at 4:00 p.m. on the same day. Davutoğlu’s meeting with Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli is, meanwhile, scheduled to take place at 2:00 p.m. on Jan. 4.

In addition to the constitution, the 2016 Central Governance Budget Bill, planned reforms and possible amendments to internal regulations of parliament will be on the agenda during these meetings.

In the Nov. 1 snap elections, the AKP secured 317 seats in the 550-member parliament. For a constitutional change in parliament, the AKP needed to win 367 seats, though 330 seats would be enough to take the issue to a referendum.

Through the redrafting of the constitution, the AKP hopes to change the country’s administrative system into an executive presidential system, though all opposition parties are fiercely opposed to the move.

As of Dec. 23, CHP executives reiterated their party’s view on the first four articles of the current constitution which were earlier dubbed a “red line” by Kılıçdaroğlu, while also ruling out support for a shift to the presidential system during a change in the constitution. The first four articles include clauses about Turkey as a secular state, and states that Turkey’s official language is Turkish.

Apart from those reservations, nonetheless, the CHP and the HDP welcomed Davutoğlu’s initiative as a positive step.

“For the ruling party, discussing significant decisions about Turkey with the opposition is positive, there is no objection on that,” CHP deputy chair Mehmet Bekaroğlu said, while underlining that these meetings should not be for show and Davutoğlu should lend an ear to what the opposition says.

“We want dialogue channels to be always kept open,” HDP deputy parliamentary group chair İdris Baluken said. “I hope that it would beneficial in regards to eliminating ongoing troubles,” Baluken added.