Wise Persons panel a 'PR move,' says main opposition leader

Wise Persons panel a 'PR move,' says main opposition leader

Wise Persons panel a PR move, says main opposition leader

The Wise Persons panel formed by the government to contribute to the ongoing peace process on the Kurdish issue is a mere public relations attempt, said main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu during an interview aired by private broadcaster CNNTürk April 5.

"It is not a civil initiative at all. A task has been granted to people carefully chosen by the prime minister himself," Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that he would have expected Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to give some clues about the solution he is seeking during the first meeting of the 63 commission members in Istanbul the day before. "I don't believe that 63 people can find a common road map and method. I think that there is a mentality of making them say what the government can't say."

Kılıçdaroğlu also explained the CHP's reasons for refusing the proposal to participate in a parliamentary assessment commission, saying that their own proposal of forming a reconciliation commission coupled with a truth commission with only civilian members was much more in line with Turkish law. "We want first [to transpose the problems onto] legal grounds and then solve them, instead of politicizing them and then arguing," he said, quoting prominent sociologist and political scientist Şerif Mardin.

Kılıçdaroğlu reiterated that his party was far from being opposed to the withdrawal of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the organization laying down their arms, however he strongly criticized the government’s accusatory tone toward the opposition. He said they did not know the details about the talks between the government and the PKK's jailed leader, Abdullah Öcalan, calling on the prime minister to meet with him. "How can I jump [in water] that I don't know the depth of? I don't have an intelligence service, or a police department, or an Interior Ministry at my command. As the representative of the voice of a quarter of the citizens, I say to come together," he said.

The CHP leader also warned that with hopes raised for peace, disappointment could lead Turkey to a far worse situation than before. "We don't know what the [PKK] wants. We only understand it with the prime minister's discourses," he said, adding that Erdoğan's latest plea for federalism could be one of the conditions.

He noted that the CHP had made dozens of proposals in the past and had defended radical changes in the laws dating from the 1980 military coup.

'No constitutional citizenship'

Regarding the work on a new Constitution, Kılıçdaroğlu said the CHP, which prepared its own draft, did not want the word "Turk" to be removed from the article defining citizenship. "There is concern that the expression ‘Turkish nation’ could be removed. We don't want even to think of the possibility of this," he said.

He explained that his party's proposal made public April 5 insisted on the independence of the judiciary, press freedom and putting more limitations on the president's current prerogatives. "We see it as a symbolic office," he said, while Erdoğan, a long supporter of a presidential system, has expressed repeatedly his wish to change the system in the new Constitution.

Kılıçdaroğlu also added that the parliamentary commission tasked with preparing a draft for a new Constitution should not be subject to a deadline.