Work on constitution may be done by March, Turkish PM says
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks at Parliamentary group meeting on Jan. 30. AA photo / Bülent UZUNThe Constitution that has been in the works for months will most likely be done by March and may be the subject of an upcoming referendum if needed, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.
“If the Constitution cannot be agreed on, then I will put it to a referendum,” Erdoğan said during a Parliamentary group meeting Jan. 30. “The minute we have enough strength for a referendum we will take it to the people.”
Erdoğan also touched upon the recent Cabinet reshuffle, criticizing the media and members of the opposition for speaking on the issue as if it were “about rewards and punishments.”
“The Cabinet is not formed to award positions to deputies, or to give them ranks, it is formed to serve the people,” Erdoğan said.
Speaking on a recent regulation allowing individuals to defend themselves in court in “languages they can best express themselves in,” Erdoğan said the main term used in the media, “defense in mother tongue,” was incorrect.
“It’s not defense in mother tongue,” Erdoğan said. “It’s the suspects defending themselves in the languages that they want to.”
Erdoğan called the change “a vital step in democratization.”
Greek assigning muftis ‘unacceptable’
Erdoğan also spoke about recent attempts by Greek government officials to assign a lead mufti for Muslim clerics, calling the incident “unacceptable.”
Mentioning a recent meeting with the Greek prime minister, Erdoğan told members of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) that he had passed on their concerns.
“Assigning muftis has increased tension in the region,” Erdoğan said. “We asked the Greek government to be more sensitive about minority issues. Such a mistake, to assign Muslim clerics, will not be accepted.”
“Recent regulations should not harm our relations,” he added.
Erdoğan then criticized global actors who “call developments in Turkey negative events.”
“Those who tell us the EU is a better example, how so? We know that they have brought terrorists to Parliaments; we know how they have protected them. We don’t care about the grades international organizations assign us. We only care about human values,” Erdoğan said.
“They say we have a negative attitude on the press,” the prime minister added. “He gets caught in possession of arms; he gets involved in wounding and/or killing security officials. Then they say he is a member of the press because he has a press card.”