Turkey may go to the ballot box three times in 2014 -- for local elections, presidential elections and a referendum on a new constitution -- should the efforts by the four political parties represented in Parliament to write a new constitution fail to bear fruit in the coming months.
“We will take the issue to a referendum if we can obtain 330 votes [in Parliament],” said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who added that he wasn't hopeful that the parliamentary commission tasked with drafting a new constitution would manage to come up with a jointly-drawn constitution.
Erdoğan, who had left for an official visit to the US early last week, met on Friday with the editors-in-chief of Turkish dailies who accompanied him during the trip at the Turkish embassy and answered questions on a wide range of topics. The prime minister informed the group that regional issues and bilateral economic ties had been thoroughly discussed in the Washington, D.C., meetings.
Should the parliamentary Constitutional Reconciliation Commission, which has been working on a new constitution for more than a year, fail to produce a result, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) will put its Plan C into action and bring its own proposal for a new constitution to Parliament for consideration. As the AK Party has only 326 seats in Parliament, the government also needs some support from members of the opposition parties, with a minimum of 330 yes-votes being required for an issue related to the constitution to be taken to a referendum.
“If no result is achieved, we can also [continue to] serve with the present constitution. If we obtain the figure [330 votes in Parliament], then we will take the issue to a referendum; there may be three elections in 2014,” Erdoğan said. The prime minister is not very hopeful that the reconciliation commission will be able to come up with a draft constitution, given that it has only reached agreement on 40 articles of a new constitution so far.
The government may also consider taking the issue to a referendum this year. “Should the parliamentary speaker [Cemil Çiçek, who is also head of the reconciliation commission] say ‘It has failed,' then we may also hold the referendum this year,” the prime minister said. Although Erdoğan wishes that Turkey would discuss whether or not a presidential system would better suit the country, he said the AK Party wouldn't be insistent that presidential system be adopted in the new constitution.
“I told my friends, ‘Make things easier as much as possible,'” said Erdoğan, who criticized opposition parties that refuse to even discuss a presidential system for Turkey at meetings of the Constitutional Reconciliation Commission, adding, “If Turkey adopts the presidential system, which attitude would be eliminated [from the political scene]?” possibly referring to the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).
With regard to the Galataport tender for rights to operate the port located in İstanbul's Karaköy district on the Bosporus offered at $702 million for 30 years, Erdoğan said he doesn't agree with some comments that the figure to be paid for the port is less than it should have been. At a previous tender for the Galataport in 2005 that was later cancelled, the winning figure was as high as $5 billion. The period for which the port will be leased is only 30 years, as opposed to the previous tender which was for a period of 49 years and the area of the port on which construction is allowed is now smaller, noted Erdoğan.
In the current tender, neither the İstanbul Modern museum, nor Warehouse 5 in the port area is included. Additionally, the maximum height of blocks to be constructed – the Galataport project will include the construction of hotels, shopping centers and a cruise-ship terminal -- will be lower this time than was allowed in the previous tender. Also noting that in the previous tender the payment was only required within a period of 49 years, Erdoğan stated, “But now, it's as if it's being paid on the spot,” maintaining that today's figure is actually comparatively much greater than that which was to be paid in the 2005 tender.
(CİHAN)Last Mod: 19 Mayıs 2013, 18:05