ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

Mehmet Ali Şahin says he finds 'no compelling, multilateral urge' to form a commission, which was expected to work on a new constitution. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ
Turkey’s parliamentary speaker has defended his retreat from an initiative to establish a conciliation commission in Parliament to start work on drafting a new constitution, saying inter-party disputes had hamstrung the process.
“If the various political parties reach an agreement on establishing a conciliation commission [for the new constitution], I would always help to form it,” Parliamentary Speaker Mehmet Ali Şahin told reporters Wednesday.
Opposition parties harshly criticized Şahin for what they saw as a u-turn in his attitude toward establishing such a commission following remarks from the prime minister regarding the timing of installing a new constitution. Şahin responded to the criticisms by saying none of the main political parties had found the necessary accord to establish such a commission.
Şahin reminded representatives of their comments when they asked him: “As the speaker of Parliament, are you the president of the ruling party or president of Turkish Parliament?”
“Frankly I desired a conciliation commission to work on constitutional reform,” Şahin said. He said most political parties had been told they could be represented if a commission was formed. “However the leader of the ruling party said his party could take constitutional change onto the agenda after the elections. They said, ‘Don’t come to us to form a commission,’” Şahin said.
“As parliamentary speaker I find no compelling, multilateral urge to form a commission, which should only be formed with the participation of all political parties.”
Both the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, have openly expressed their intention to rewrite the Constitution.
Şahin previously stated he was ready to initiate steps toward charter reform, however, the ruling party and the opposition disagreed about the timing of the charter’s restructuring.
While CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said the process could be completed within months, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the right time for drafting a new constitution was after next year’s general elections.