Ankara, Aug 11 () - A meeting between the leaders of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Republican People’s Party (CHP) failed to produce a breakthrough on a coalition government, but doors were left open, with both sides announcing that a final decision will be made later this week.
The meeting between the AKP leader, incumbent Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, and CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on the evening of Aug. 10 took longer than four hours. The first coalition meeting between the two leaders took place on July 13, as part of the first round of coalition talks after Davutoğlu was given the mandate to form a government by President Tayyip Erdoğan on July 9.
In the meantime, lower-ranking party officials held weeks-long negotiations, which Davutoğlu dubbed as “exploratory talks.”
“The two chairmen will meet again this week on Aug. 13 or Aug. 14 depending on their schedules. Will there be a coalition or not? A clear answer to that question will be given after that meeting” Culture and Tourism Minister Ömer Çelik, who has been leading the lower-level negotiations for the AKP, told reporters.
Haluk Koç, deputy leader of the CHP, also said the meeting would fall on either dates. Both Çelik and Koç were present at Aug. 10 meeting between their leaders.
The type of government that was debated and examined the most by the two leaders was “a long-lasting reform government” sources told Hürriyet daily. Davutoğlu discussed the idea of a minority government and a government aimed at taking the country to an early election, but the CHP rejected the idea, the same sources said.
Following five sessions of “exploratory” talks, both the AKP and CHP delegations presented reports to their leaders, classifying issues on which there was consensus, disagreement and close to consensus. These reports shaped content of the meeting.
Accordingly, Kılıçdaroğlu underlined five particular areas that his party attaches the utmost importance to, asking for fundamental changes to be made to the following: foreign policy, economy, education, a new constitution and the Kurdish issue. Kılıçdaroğlu reportedly wants his party to hold at least three of the ministries of the interior, justice, education or foreign ministry, in the case of a government partnership with the AKP.
“If we are to speak of an AKP-CHP coalition, one of the primary conditions is a change of foreign policy. There is a need to look at the Middle East, the EU and other centers of the world, with a new foreign policy based on peace” Kılıçdaroğlu allegedly told Davutoğlu during the meeting, Hürriyet reported. “We also want primary education to be eight-years long, without interruption” he said.
Meanwhile, Davutoğlu said the membership process with the EU was on track and relations with allies, specifically the United States, have continued within the framework of an alliance relationship. He particularly emphasized Turkey’s active role in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and refused a fundamental change in foreign policy.
The AKP may approach positively to certain changes in education system; however, they would not be supportive of a fundamental change, Davutoğlu also reportedly also told Kılıçdaroğlu.
“As the CHP, we are not after a blood feud. If a possible coalition emerges within the framework of principles set by the CHP, we would not start a hunt targeting the AKP’s 13 year-long rule. Independent judiciary and independent auditing boards would do what is required. In this context, we would also like the process regarding Dec. 17 and 25 to be run at the disposal of the free will of the judiciary and lawmakers.”
Kılıçdaroğlu also reportedly told the AKP leader, in an apparent reference to the now-dropped massive Dec. 17 and 25, 2013 corruption cases, which embroiled four former ministers and their relatives.
The AKP lost its parliament majority in this year’s June 7 election for the first time since it came to power, plunging Turkey into political uncertainty not seen since the fragile coalition governments of the 1990s.
Parties have until Aug. 23 to agree on a working coalition or President Erdoğan could call a new election.
Erdoğan has made little secret of his preference for single-party rule. Opponents say he wants another election to enable the AKP to win enough of a majority to change the constitution and grant him greater powers as an executive president.