Turkish PM losing hopes for deal for on charter

Turkish PM losing hopes for deal for on charter

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish PM losing hopes for deal for on charter

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. AA photo

Turkey’s prime minister has said he is losing hope that the four parliamentary parties will be able to reach a consensus on a new charter but added that his party will remain at the table until the new Constitution is written.

“My hopes [for the charter] are diminishing with each passing day,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan originally said while returning from Berlin on Oct. 31.

“I believe that there is a need to continue the process in a determined and resolute way. There is no escape from the table. Our stance is clear,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying Nov. 2 by daily Hürriyet. “Here, it is important to provide maximum common ground. Pay attention, maximum common ground, but not minimum common ground.”

“If the [main opposition Republican People’s Party] CHP comes, we will do it with the CHP; and if the [Nationalist Movement Party] MHP comes, we will do it with them. What matters is achieving maximum common ground. So let [the new Constitution] not be a ragtag [document], let it be a [completely] new Constitution,” Erdoğan added.

The prime minister’s main problem is the negotiation-based work of the Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission, Atilla Kart, a CHP deputy representing his party at the commission, said Nov. 2 when reminded of Erdoğan’s remarks.

“The prime minister is having trouble with the fact that he, in the first place, allowed such a work [by the Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission] to begin because negotiations are being held at the Constitution Conciliation Commission. Negotiation is a concept which the prime minister does not know and cannot accept,” Kart told reporters at a press conference. “The prime minister is willing to escape from that table and wants to create a reason, an excuse for doing so. Let the prime minister not cast a shadow, we are serving there on behalf of Parliament. As long as the prime minister does not cast a shadow, then I believe that we will succeed in making a Constitution despite the prime minister,” Kart added.

Erdoğan set a strict deadline for the panel’s work on Oct. 2, saying a charter had to be drafted with opposition help by year’s end or the Justice and Development Party (AKP) would strike out to produce the charter alone. His remarks were seen as both interference and an imposition by the opposition parties.

Although attempts to draft a new charter first began a year ago on Nov. 1, 2011, the Commission has so far only drafted 38 articles as part of the fundamental rights and freedoms chapter.

Another challenge awaiting the commission will be the AKP’s proposal for a presidential system. The ruling party is set to officially introduce its proposal on imposing a presidential system to the commission, which will start debating the “legislation” chapter on Nov. 5. Erdoğan is a firm supporter of switching to a presidential system before May 2014, when the country will go to the polls to vote for the first Turkish president elected by popular vote. Erdoğan is expected to run in the elections.

Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek earlier this week also reiterated his support for the idea, underlining deficiencies in the current parliamentary system and implying that a presidential system was a way out of existing problems without explicitly saying so.

“They call the current system a parliamentary democracy. Is it? Is Parliament functioning properly at the moment? Is policy being produced as it should be?” Çiçek said.