ANKARA (AA) - A new constitution and adopting a presidential system will be among the new government’s top priorities, according to new Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
“In all the elections up to now, political parties have always promised a new constitution. However, these promises have unfortunately been shelved, and this parliament elected by the nation’s will has failed to write a new constitution,” Yildirim said as he presented the program of the 65th Cabinet to parliament Tuesday.
“Today is the day. All changes that would lead to the establishment of a presidential system including a new constitution will be among our top priorities,” Yildirim said, calling on the other political parties to contribute to this process.
Turkey’s current constitution came into effect two years after a 1980 military coup, and the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party has long called for a "democratic, participatory and pluralistic” new constitution.
The issue of a presidential system in Turkey has also made headlines for the past two years. Turkey is currently governed under a parliamentary system but in August 2014, Turkish citizens, for the first time, directly elected the country’s president.
The AK Party has too few seats in parliament to pass constitutional changes by vote or else submit them to a national referendum.
Moreover, none of Turkey’s three opposition parties represented in parliament has expressed support for shifting to a presidential system.
- Fight against terror to continue
The prime minister went on to say that Turkey’s fight against terrorism will continue to be another priority.
"Our struggle against all terrorist organizations, in particular the separatist terrorist group [PKK] and parallel state will continue in a determined manner," Yildirim said.
“There will be no tolerance for any illegitimate organization that would harm the unity of our nation, or the future of our country," he added, vowing to "take terrorism off Turkey’s agenda".
Headed by Fetullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Islamic preacher who runs a network of schools and commercial enterprises in Turkey and around the world, the “parallel state” represents a clandestine group of Turkish bureaucrats and senior officials, allegedly embedded in the country’s institutions, including the judiciary and the police.
Known also by the initials FETO/PDY, the organization is also said to be behind a December 2013 corruption investigation into senior government figures, including ministers.
Since early 2014, investigations into the parallel state have seen hundreds of civil servants, including police and public prosecutors, arrested or reassigned.
As for foreign policy, Yildirim said it is essential to contribute to peace and stability in the region, and the world at large.
"Our goal in foreign policy is to continue pursuing policies which would ensure lasting peace and fellowship in the immediate region," he said.
The PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization also by the U.S., and the EU -- resumed its 30-year armed campaign against the Turkish state in July 2015.
Since then, more than 480 members of the security forces, including soldiers, police officers, and village guards, have been martyred, and over 4,900 PKK terrorists killed in operations across Turkey and northern Iraq.