Turkish government wants new constitution ready by first half of 2012

The government wants a new constitution to replace the current to be ready by the first half of 2012, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

“We will concentrate on this issue [of making a new constitution] with the opening of Parliament [on Saturday]. We hope to be done with this issue in the first half of 2012,” Erdoğan said on Thursday as he responded to questions from reporters at Ankara’s Esenboğa Airport before he left the country for an official visit to Macedonia.

When asked about a recent decision by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to end its parliamentary boycott and to join in parliamentary proceedings, Erdoğan said he had stated before that the BDP would return to Parliament and that he was proved right. “You [reporters] are following me closely. You know I said earlier that the BDP was going to come to Parliament. I had said the same thing about the [main opposition Republican People’s Party] CHP as well. The CHP has already come. Our expectations for the BDP’s return also came true with their announcement yesterday,” the prime minister said.

He was referring to a similar boycott by the CHP, which had also announced following court decisions to bar three of its deputies from entering Parliament that it would not take the oath of office until its colleagues are allowed to do so. The CHP changed its mind in July after an agreement on a joint declaration with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and its deputies took their oaths.

As for the question of whether the BDP would also take part in the talks to make a new constitution, Erdoğan said they can as long as they form a parliamentary group. Noting that the government had initially requested appointments with the parties that have parliamentary groups in Parliament, he added they can also meet with the BDP if they form a group. A delegation from the ruling AK Party has already begun visiting opposition parties to discuss the drafting of a new constitution on the eve of the new legislative session, set to begin on Saturday.

The five-member AK Party team led by Deputy Chairman Ömer Çelik met with the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on Wednesday and is meeting with the main opposition CHP on Thursday. During the press briefing after an hour-long meeting with the MHP leadership, Çelik said the talks were very positive, without giving any details on the substance of the meeting.

Turkey’s long-awaited expectations for a new civilian constitution have become stronger than ever since the June 12 parliamentary elections. All of the parties represented in Parliament vowed to draft a new constitution to replace the existing one, which was drafted under martial law after the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup and has long been criticized for failing to respond to today’s needs for broader rights and freedoms. The ruling party also vowed to make a new constitution after its election victory.

 

 

29 September 2011, Thursday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,