ANKARA (AA) - A new constitution and a presidential system is the priority for millions of supporters of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Thursday.
Yildirim has vowed to replace Turkey’s current constitution and parliamentary model since he became premier and chairman of the AK Party last month.
“We will make both a new constitution and bring the presidential system to this country,” he told a gathering of provincial party leaders in Ankara.
Yildirim described the present charter - parts of which were introduced by the military government in the 1980s - as a “coup constitution”, adding that reform was “the most important duty for the millions who set their heart on the AK Party.”
Constitutional change, in particular the call for a presidential system, has climbed the political agenda since Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former prime minister and AK Party leader, was elected president in August 2014.
The election was the first time a Turkish president, whose role is currently defined as largely symbolic, was directly elected by popular vote.
Changing to the presidential system is opposed by Turkey’s three other parliamentary parties and the AK Party does not have enough deputies to pass the changes without submitting them to a referendum.
On economic issues, Yildirim said the new government would stress the role of investment. “We will be a government that produces, invests and creates jobs,” he said. “We will attach particular importance to investment.”
He added: “We will take any kind of measures to prevent waste, particularly in the public sphere.”
Turning to foreign policy, he warned of the consequences of Thursday’s expected vote in the German parliament on labeling 1915 events as genocide.
“Germany is undergoing a real friendship test,” he said.
Describing the vote in terms of drawing attention away from internal problems, he added: “Sometimes countries we regard as friends, when they fall into despair in domestic politics, come up with such bright ideas as ‘where should we draw attention to’. This is one of them.”
The deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia occurred after some sided with invading Russian forces. Turkey acknowledges that there were numerous casualties on both sides in the subsequent fighting and relocation of Armenians but denies this amounted to genocide.
Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia plus international experts, to tackle the issue.