No hope for new charter, Turkish parliament speaker tells party leaders

23 November 2013 / TODAYSZAMAN.COM, İSTANBUL- Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek on Friday sent letters to the leaders of political parties, saying the hope for a new constitution, meant to enshrine democratic freedoms and further distance Turkey from the era of military coups, has completely faded.

Following a three-hour meeting of the parliamentary Constitutional Reconciliation Commission on Monday, Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek said he does not believe the commission will come up with a new constitution. He added that he would write a letter to the leaders of the four political parties represented in Parliament to inform them of his views concerning the commission’s failure.

Çiçek sent the letter to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) on Friday and told the leaders that it is impossible to draft a new constitution in the commission. “Despite certain progress made … it is obvious that an agreement will not be reached,” Çiçek said in his letter, adding that the main reason behind the discord is red lines drawn by the parties. In his two-page letter, Çiçek stressed that the goal had been to complete a draft constitution for the end of 2012. “There has not yet been a breakthrough and, unfortunately, there is no sign of hope that a draft constitution can be prepared in these final days of 2013,” he added.

Çiçek said the commission had to convene 23 times because its meetings were not productive, and thus a lot of time was lost. Although he visited the leaders of the four political parties in an attempt to resolve the situation, Çiçek said all of his efforts failed to help the commission work effectively toward drafting the new constitution.

A new constitution was one of the key pledges made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his third term in office, meant to replace a text born of the 1980 coup which, despite numerous revisions, still bears the stamp of military tutelage.The commission had been trying for two years to reconcile its differences on some of the most deeply divisive issues in modern Turkey, from the definition of Turkish citizenship to the protection of religious freedoms. The four parties had only reached agreements on around 60 articles, less than half of what a draft would require, and the talks have been deadlocked in recent weeks.