Ankara, July 14 () - The Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP) have echoed each other, with both emphasizing the utmost need to form “a strong government” for the sake of the country in separate remarks delivered following a meeting between the leaders of the two parties during which they tested the waters for a possible “grand coalition.”
“I stated Turkey cannot tolerate even a minute without a government and that we want the formation of a strong government which is based on strong foundations and mutual confidence” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu of the AKP said at a press conference following a meeting with CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on July 13.
“He [Kılıçdaroğlu] also expressed his opinions in this framework and, likewise, emphasized ‘a strong government.’ I see that, firstly within this framework, we have reached a common understanding for resuming these talks” Davutoğlu said.
Describing the meeting at the CHP headquarters as “warm and constructive,” Davutoğlu indicated that a psychological threshold between the two parties that received the most votes in the June 7 elections had been passed during the meeting.
Delivering remarks on behalf of his party shortly after Davutoğlu’s press conference, CHP Deputy Chair Haluk Koç noted that the prime minister had already summarized the result of the meeting.
“Building of a mutual confidence is needed. Flaws that were observed during past practices need to be eliminated. These were discussed,” Koç said. “On the issue of will, both sides have underlined that Turkey needs to take up the coming years with a strong government profile.”
The leader of the AKP, which lost its parliamentary majority in the June 7 parliamentary election, was tasked on July 9 by President Tayyip Erdoğan to form a new government.
With his meeting with Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli scheduled for July 14 and a meeting with Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ scheduled for July 15, Davutoğlu reiterated that he plans to complete the first round of talks before Eid al-Fitr, the three-day long Islamic holiday starting July 17.
In the meantime, however, a delegation from the AKP and the CHP will continue holding “exploratory talks,” according to Davutoğlu. He said he wished to have the same kind of “exploratory” talks with other parties too before holding a second round of talks after Eid al-Fitr.
“These are not negotiations of a coalition on which an agreement is accomplished. These are preliminary meetings aimed at an accurate understanding between the parties ahead of a negotiation” Davutoğlu said. “If there is a ground for a government partnership negotiation, it will be revealed during the second round.”
Tourism and Culture Minister Ömer Çelik of the AKP and Koç of CHP will serve as so-called “contact points” of their parties during the exploratory talks.
In addition to Çelik, Davutoğlu was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş, Development Minister Cevdet Yılmaz, Istanbul deputy Ayşe Nur Bahçekapılı and Ankara deputy Mücahit Bilici during the one-and-half-hour long meeting at the CHP headquarters.
Kılıçdaroğlu hosted the AKP delegation along with three deputy leaders of his party – Koç, Selin Sayek Böke and Faik Öztrak – as well as Istanbul deputy Akif Hamzaçebi and adviser Rasim Bölücek.
Both during the June 7 campaign and in the run-up to talks to forming a new government, Erdoğan’s role and his use of power has been a contentious issue for the incumbent AKP government and all opposition parties, with the latter demanding Erdoğan withdraw to his constitutional limits.
“The office of the presidency is not a matter which would be part of government partnership talks,” Davutoğlu said when asked whether the issue came up during the meeting. Recalling that it was Erdoğan who commissioned him to conduct the meetings, Davutoğlu said such an agenda item would be irrelevant and unnatural.
Still, he noted that the constitution and democratic reforms were discussed during the meeting with the CHP leader in general terms.