ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calls on the opposition to cooperate. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ
Amid renewed debate about the headscarf issue, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeated his call to the country’s opposition parties to work together with his ruling party to solve the problem.
“We expect the opposition party to keep the promises it made to the public,” Erdoğan said Tuesday at a meeting of his Justice and Development Party, or AKP’s, group, in Parliament, reminding listeners of opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s promise to craft a solution to the headscarf issue.
“If you are sincere, give your instructions; I will also give mine,” Erdoğan said, addressing the leader of the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, and calling on “colleagues from the MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] and BDP [Peace and Democracy Party]” to join the effort as well.
Despite their shared statements on the issue, the two politicians approach the matter from different angles. Erdoğan has said the Department of Religious Affairs should be included as an adviser on the commission to address the issue, while Kılıçdaroğlu has previously pointed to the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights on the wearing of the Islamic head-covering.
The prime minister also addressed Kılıçdaroğlu’s suggestion that Turkish women cover their hair in a more relaxed style seen in parts of other countries. “There is no need to give examples from Iran or Pakistan; no need for exploitation, no need for designers,” Erdoğan said. “[Women] can wear whatever they want. Do you ask those who don’t wear the headscarf why they wear stretch trousers or baggy trousers, or pinafore dresses? This is the real democracy and freedom.”
In his remarks, Erdoğan also criticized the opposition parties for calling for an immediate, comprehensive change in the Constitution, something the prime minister has said should be tabled until after the 2011 general elections. “They opposed [us] during the talks about constitutional change and now they propose to make an amendment in one week’s time,” he said, adding that the opposition parties could not even change their own party statutes before the elections.
“Is it easier to change the Constitution than a party regulation?” Erdoğan asked, repeating his proposal to make a new constitutional amendment just after the 2011 elections.
“Whatever the [level of] representation of your party is in the Parliament, let’s make the changes in the same proportion, form a reconciliation commission and make a good constitution,” he said. “There is already a prepared internal regulation; let’s revise it.”
The prime minister also criticized the way the opposition carried out its political campaigning in the run-up to the Sept. 12 constitutional referendum. “People reacted on Sept. 12 to sour, angry attitudes and expressions leading to polarization,” he said. “I hope the opposition will not call upon the preventive and slowing-down style of politics while we are making adjustment laws.”
Added Erdoğan: “We don’t abstain from reconciliation and dialogue. Thus, we will talk about every problem under the framework of Parliament.”
In the part of his speech to his party that was closed to the press, Erdoğan warned his deputies about their statements on TV, the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review has learned. Stressing that there is a sensitive election period ahead, he said: “I don’t say you shouldn’t talk on TV. However, get permission from the party administration.”