MHP's Oktay Vural: AKP must not cross "red lines"
MHP's Oktay Vural says the first three articles of the constitution should not be changed.
By Alakbar Raufoglu for SES Türkiye -- 25/11/11
The right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has set distinct "red lines" regarding Turkey's new constitution, the Kurdish problem and foreign policy. In an interview with SES Türkiye correspondent Alakbar Raufoglu, MHP Deputy Chairman and Parliamentary Group Chairman Oktay Vural describes his party's policy.
SES Türkiye: What is the MHP's position on the constitutional debate and how would you like to see the new basic law?
Oktay Vural: The first task of the Constitutional Reconciliation Commission, which recently started its meetings, is to collect the ideas of all parties by the end of the year. After this, evaluation will begin.
We all believe that our constitution should be rearranged. Some of its articles should be removed, others added. But the first three articles of the current constitution are our red lines. They should be preserved and shouldn't be touched.
That means the form and sovereignty of our state, the symbols of the republic, national identity, the official language and other such attributes shouldn't be the topics of these discussions. These are very sensitive issues, and we won't accept any approach to the constitutional reform process that constructs a new [definition of the] state and nation in Turkey.
But, of course, there are some reforms that we want to see in the new constitution, such as judicial independence, legislation, limitations on the executive forces by law, the president's immunity, maintaining the parliamentary system, etc. Rights and freedoms should increase. The constitution should be well-functioning and provide justice. The MHP will defend its sensitivities in the commission.
SES Türkiye: As a party that wants Turkish identity to be protected and opposes any arrangement that recognises political and legal status for various ethnic identities, how does the MHP see the solution to the Kurdish problem?
Vural: First of all, the purpose of these constitutional changes is not to fix a problem. If someone seeks a solution to the national and ethnic issues through the constitution, we won't accept it. The concept of "Turkishness" does not express ethnic identity. Those who try to do this desire to divide this geography according to ethnic identities.
Second, there is no Kurdish problem in Turkey. Therefore, we believe that dividing this nation on ethnic identities will erase democracy. Instead of doing that, bringing those people together under national values and ethnic richness would strengthen democracy. The Turkish people created their own culture, and dividing them wouldn't be the right thing.
SES Türkiye: Can the MHP show direction on the matter of the Kurdish issue without losing more lives and time?
Vural: Once again, this issue shouldn't be politicised. But unfortunately, the government was seeking dialogue with terrorists, instead of fighting against them. They should also stop going after and accusing those who fight against terrorism [the military]. These are our red lines and therefore we can't accept this [Kurdish] opening.
SES Türkiye: If the MHP's "red lines" are crossed during the constitutional debate, will you withdraw from the commission?
Vural: Our expectation is that the AKP, a party that always pretends that it values our national sovereignty and talks about "one nation and one state", must not take any step against the fundamental values of this Republic. We'll see what their real ideas are during the [constitutional debate] process.
SES Türkiye: Does the MHP have any "red lines" for foreign policy as well? How do you see the influence of the "Arab Spring" on Turkey and the AKP?
Vural: The AKP's foreign policy doesn't have a real foundation. Instead of zero-problems, [they] have brought us into a problem with almost everyone. Tensions with Iran and Syria are increasing. With the Armenian rapprochement, [the AKP] created a new tension with Azerbaijan.
The biggest problem is that all these events have reduced confidence in Turkish foreign policy. Red lines have been crossed here. These problems are all the AKP's fault. This is clearly not a sustainable policy.