- Turkey's ruling and main opposition parties have agreed on the need for a new constitution which will highlight democratic norms and human rights in a libertarian approach, during a meeting between the parties' leaders, which also brought about a joint understanding to fasten the adoption of legal arrangements required by the European Union.
However, differences over the adoption of the presidential system remained intact, as the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) said it was sticking to its position supporting the parliamentary system.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, the leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) paid a visit to CHP head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in parliament as part of his tour of opposition leaders to seek their support for the new constitution and other reform packages. The meeting between the two leaders lasted two hours and 15 minutes.
“We have offered the revival of the parliamentary conciliation commission that operated in previous legislative terms with the participation of all political parties represented with an equal number of lawmakers. We have offered the continuation of this work which brought an agreement on around 60 articles, except for those on the description of the executive power” CHP spokesperson Haluk Koç told reporters after the talks.
“There is a full agreement between the two parties for Turkey to get rid of this constitution, a product of the  military coup, and form a new constitution,” AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik told journalists at a press conference on Dec. 30, adding the prime minister welcomed the idea of the revival of the commission but the picture needed more clarity from his later meeting with the nationalist opposition leader. Çelik thanked the CHP delegation for their warm reception and their kindness in receiving them, saying the two leaders agreed to meet more often to exchange their views about political issues.
Çelik said Davutoğlu will make a more comprehensive assessment about these talks after his meeting with Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), on Jan 4.
“The main issue was the new constitution. We believe the new constitution will constitute the road map for Turkey's 2023 goals,” Çelik stressed. “The existing constitution was written in a way to deepen the disharmony within the system and not to provide harmony. We should change this.”
CHP, AKP differ on presidential system
Although the two parties agreed on the prospect of a new charter, their differences over what administrative system Turkey should adopt remained in place. “We believe the presidential system is most useful for Turkey; the CHP believes the parliamentary system will better serve Turkey” Çelik said. “The main point of our discussions should be over which of these systems will better provide the implementation of fundamental rights and freedoms, judicial independence and the role of the parliament. Let's discuss the substance and not definitions.”
Koç, on the other hand, said they did not receive a detailed explanation about the presidential model the AKP had in mind, stressing that the CHP's position has not changed. Çelik, in response to a question, said Davutoğlu openly explained what the government had in mind when talking about the presidential system, and asked the CHP delegation not to discuss this issue on the grounds of conjectural developments.
AKP, CHP to work to remove junta-made articles
One agreement the two parties came to was the removal of all junta-made laws and constitutional articles from relevant documents in a bid to save Turkish democracy from the dark shadow and spirit of the 1980 military coup d'Ã©tat. “Our Justice Ministry has recently begun work to identify all of these junta-made articles, laws and other regulations. We will soon submit it to the CHP and the two parties' officials will soon work on them” Çelik said.
Koç also underlined the same point and cited the laws on political parties, the election threshold and many others which would help better Turkish democracy if they were removed from the Turkish acquis.
EU-required laws will have priority
The CHP spokesperson recalled that the social democratic party would lend its support to the laws required by the EU for the visa liberalization process. “There is a time limitation for some of the laws about visa liberalization. The CHP will give its support to any kind of legal arrangements in line with the EU harmonization process, as we did in the past,” he stressed. Çelik welcomed the CHP's stance on the EU process.
Another agreement the two parties reached was over changing parliament's internal regulation in order to make it work more efficiently.