Turkish President meets opposition leader

Türkiye Materials 4 March 2010 09:28 (UTC +04:00)

Turkish President Abdullah Gül has taken the initiative to seek consensus and dialogue with the opposition party leaders after Turkey's top judge said the government and opposition should reach a compromise on the planned constitutional changes, Hürriyet Daily News reported.

Gül on Wednesday hosted Deniz Baykal, leader of the Republican People's Party, or CHP, at the Çankaya Presidential Palace. Gül is also scheduled to meet Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, as well as Selahattin Demirtaş, leader of the Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, on Thursday.

These efforts by Gül, who is considered a moderate voice in Turkey's fractious political landscape, are interpreted as a kind of intermediary role to ease the rising tension between the government and the opposition in the wake of the government's announcement that it will push for the constitutional amendments involving the judicial reform package.

The move came one week after Gül hosted the country's top judges and met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ.

Gül's meetings with opposition leaders are expected to focus on the government-led constitutional amendment package and the recent judicial crisis.

Meanwhile, Baykal said one hour before his meeting with Gül that the CHP will apply to the Constitutional Court to annul the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP-run, constitutional amendment package if Parliament passes the package. Baykal voiced the decision in his party's closed-door Central Executive Board, or MYK, meeting on Wednesday. 

Speaking to broadcaster CNNTürk, the CHP's Mustafa Özyürek said Wednesday that Gül's initiative was useful.

The MHP's Cihan Paçacı said they urged the president earlier to hold a summit that would bring all party leaders together. "Our proposal didn't anticipate an individual meeting but a state summit. But still it is a positive development for the president to take a step and listen to the political parties for a solution. These meetings are likely to contribute to the reduction of the tension."

Gül will meet Bahçeli at 11 a.m. and Demirtaş at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Gül had earlier planned to hold a summit with the opposition leaders to discuss the AKP-run Kurdish move to end the terror problem in the country, but the meeting didn't take place. Gül later wanted to hold an individual meeting with Bahçeli, who displayed the severest reaction to the Kurdish move, in August but Bahçeli declined the invitation.