By Murat Paksoy and Etem Geylan
ISTANBUL (AA) – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said that it is the Turkish people who will decide on proposed sweeping changes to Turkey’s constitution.
“The nation will have the last word on the issue. We all respect the nation’s decision and accept it,” he told journalists in Istanbul, speaking on the debate and voting in parliament this week on the proposed changes.
If parliament passes the changes, the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party has vowed to send the changes to a referendum for the public's approval.
Erdogan added, “In developed countries, presidential or semi-presidential systems seem settled. If the administrators and politicians are successful, it can yield a result.”
Asked whether snap elections are in the offing, he said, “If parliament fails to work, that might be a choice of course.” But he said this is another issue.
“Let’s discuss fairly without any fighting,” he added, pointing to the brawling among MPs in the parliament this week.
He criticized the opposition suggestion that the constitutional changes would lead to one-man rule. “If we speak of one-man rule in Turkey, that’s the Republican People’s Party [CHP], which has been applying one-man rule since its inception up to now,” speaking of the main opposition party, which was Turkey’s only party in the republic’s early years.
- Annan Plan on Cyprus 'no longer valid'
On the Cyprus reunification talks going on at the UN office in Geneva, Erdogan dismissed the 2004 Annan Plan as “no longer valid.”
The federation plan, named after then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, was accepted by Turkish Cypriots in a referendum but rejected by Greek Cypriots.
On the current proposals, he said, “This is a new negotiation process. [Under one proposal] The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus will rule the country for one term while the Greek Cypriots get four terms. This can’t be done.”
He said Turkey is proposing one term for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and two terms for the Greek Cypriot side.
Reunification talks resumed in May 2015; both sides have repeatedly expressed optimism that a solution could be found.
Once a final agreement is reached, it would be put to both Cypriot communities in a referendum.
Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci has said a reunification vote could be held in mid-2017 pending agreement in Geneva.