World Bulletin / News Desk
Speaking during a weekly Justice and Development (AK) Party meeting in the capital Ankara, Binali Yildirim rejected the claims made by CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who said the constitutional change would be a regime change.
"Kilicdaroglu! The regime argument ended in 1923 [when Turkey was declared as a republic]. If the republic was contested, the AK Party would be first to revolt. We’re changing the constitution, not the regime," Yildirim said.
Senior AK Party officials recently announced they would modify the constitution with the opposition Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) support, while the CHP has repeatedly stated its hostility to changing the system.
Last Saturday, Kilicdaroglu said that the CHP's "door is always open to exchange of views" on the issue, reiterating however that his party would not support a presidential system.
Yildirim had said Friday that the ruling AK Party would proceed with the MHP to put the presidential system into effect, all the while praising its leader, Devlet Bahceli, for "taking responsibility in solving this important issue".
Constitutional change -- in particular, the call for a presidential system -- has been on the political agenda since Recep Tayyip Erdogan, former prime minister and AK Party leader, was elected Turkey's president in August 2014.
That election was the first time a Turkish president was directly chosen by popular vote.
Meanwhile, according to the prime minister's office, Yildirim will pay an official visit to Russia on Dec. 5-6.
The prime minister is expected to meet his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, the sources said.
It will be the first prime ministerial-level visit to Moscow since Erdogan occupied the post as prime minister.