Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that Turkey has the chance to prepare a civilian constitution for the first time in its history, as he reiterated his call for drafting a new charter.
"A new and historic duty awaits parliament," Erdoğan told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) during a weekly parliamentary group meeting on Feb. 10.
"Turkey has the chance to prepare a civilian constitution and present it to the public in an environment of true freedom," he said.
Erdoğan on Feb. 1 said that the AKP and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) may start working on drafting a new constitution, less than four years after overhauling the previous constitution to grant his office sweeping powers.
MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli immediately supported Erdoğan's call, saying that Turkey is "obligated" to replace its current constitution.
While all parties agree that a new constitution is needed, the opposition emphasizes that the new one should include the return to a parliamentary system.
Turks had voted in favor of the constitutional changes in 2017, leading the country to switch from a parliamentary democracy to an executive presidential system despite strong backlash from opposition parties and critics.
Erdoğan was elected president under the new system in 2018, with sweeping executive powers that opposition parties described as a "one-man regime." The People's Alliance consisting of the AKP and the MHP have defended the system, saying it created a streamlined state apparatus.
'Meet the needs of the next century'
During his speech on Feb. 10, Erdoğan urged all parties to take part in drafting the constitution.
"We want all political parties to take part in this process. We will make a sincere effort to this end," he said. "Turkey must draft a constitution that will meet the needs of the next century."
"Let's prepare our proposals on the new constitution this year and start discussions. Let us share these with our nation with a visionary perspective, goodwill, and constructive approach, without leaving anyone and any segment outside," he also said.
The Turkish president claimed that there was consensus on common aspects of the new constitution.
"Let's talk and discuss differences of opinions over and over. Let's enter the 100th anniversary of our republic not with the coup constitution, but with a new civilian constitution that suits this country and our nation," Erdoğan said.
"As Peoples' Alliance, we are determined to make the most constructive contribution to the new constitution," he said.
"The final decision will of course be given by our nation," he added.