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Erdogan’s top adviser praises Trump’s first weeks performance as exemplary for Turkish constitutional package

Erdogan’s chief counselor cites Trump: The same system will apply in Turkey

According to Cumhuriyet Daily, Ilnur Çevik, chief advisor to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pointed to US President Donald Trump as an example for the presidential system, saying, “Since taking office, Trump has signed 15 decrees: he is quickly organizing the country according to his wishes. He has dismissed a lot of people and hired a lot of new people. Right now, a hundred thousand people are moving to Washington with their families; that is, people are moving from their home states to Washington, while others, those from the Obama administration, are returning to their own states from Washington. The same thing will happen in Turkey. People will work with their own teams while in power. This is not regime change, but a way to maintain balance. At the same time, we must keep our parliament very strong. Parliament must include teams to prepare the laws. Without them, our job is very difficult. The parliament will maintain its supervisory duty. There will not be a motion of censure, but there will be verbal questions.”

Ilnur Cevik, who was also an advisor to Suleyman Demirel and Necmettin Erbakan, was invited to speak by the Tuesday Group, an Antalya business association. He gave his views on the new constitutional changes, referred to as the presidential system, and the related referendum.


Ilnur Cevik, who explained that President Erdogan’s advisers have been effectively working on the presidential system for about one year, said, “Work on this constitutional change came to a certain point, but it was not on the agenda until the day MHP, Mr. Bahceli, brought it to the agenda. Once it was brought to the agenda, that work was reopened and, working with the AK party, brought to its current state. It had 21 articles, Mr. Bahceli dropped this to 18 articles and the last constitutional amendment has passed the parliament. The version passed by the Parliament has not yet crossed the desk of the President of the Republic. It is expected to do so today or tomorrow. The final decision, by referendum, will most likely be taken on April 9,” according to Cumhuriyet.


On the matter of how the process got to this point, Ilnur Cevik said that since 2002, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s way always been blocked in this country. Cevik, referring to the AK Party’s establishment process before 2002, said, “The AK Party was a newly formed party, and Mr. President was then a new, fresh leader. Then they called me from the General Staff. ‘Go to Recep Tayyip Erdogan and tell him that,  as soldiers, we will do all we can to prevent his being elected to make sure that the country does not become a problematic place.’ They really did their best. Our president, as you know, was not able to stand in those elections and be elected. This is where the first block started.”


Ilhan Cevik, who said that since 2004 the military had thought “We do not want this man, we need to get this guy out of here,“ also said, “The famous affair known as Ergenekon is an incident that was later watered down by FETO. There truly was something called Ergenekon, which included a minority of soldiers. This came to light in 2007 through an e-memorandum. At that time, that group said, ‘We will not let a man whose wife wears a headscarf be president of this country.’ And they said, ‘We will do everything we can.’ Indeed, they did their worst, and they put forth the peculiar requirement, requirement 367. The Constitutional Court was also helpful to them. Eventually, the event became a complete mess. Following this, an election was held in which Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a great mandate, bringing military tutelage in Turkey to an end. Turkey’s demilitarization period started in a meaningful sense in 2007.”


Cevik, reminding listeners of the referendum held in 2010, said “In the [2010] referendum, a constitutional change requiring the president to be elected by the people was adopted, and, accordingly, the people will choose the president. Here is the confusion in Turkey; the duality is a result of this. What happened then? The AK Party won consecutive elections and Turkey came to a certain point. Now this time, instead of soldiers, other circles have continued the operations to block Tayyip Erdogan. Some time later, joining together with Fetullah Gülen also, they tried to block Turkey’s progress. And here we come to the attempt to arrest the Undersecretary of the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MIT), and, through that channel, the attempt to imprison our president (then PM), then the Gezi events, the December 17-25 incidents, and, finally, the July 15 coup attempt. These were the work of a group of people constantly trying to block our future.”


Cevik, bringing up the notion that today’s events revolve around the idea of ‘removing Tayyip Erdogan at any cost’, said: “In the end, their struggle has put Turkey in search of a new system and today we are moving to a new system. This is not regime change, because in 1923, the system of government in Turkey was designated as a Republic, and that republic continues. Saying ‘let’s decide quickly’ does not mean there will be carelessness, a lack of checks. When the president issues a decree, there are laws about that. If the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) is not satisfied with this decision, it can issue a new law, and that law will supersede the decree. Decrees can be changed by the parliament itself. Decrees about the State of Emergency (OHAL) already definitively require parliamentary approval.”


Cevik, claiming that in the new order the presidency will be powerful, responsible, and accountable to the Supreme Court (Yüce Divan) in all matters, said:

“Now our president says that he is ready to turn over his authority and to be responsible. So, here, our president is in fact in favor of leaving the blessings in his hand. Blessings here being these unlimited powers. The authority of the President is balanced by the authority of the Parliament. From now on, elections will be much different in Turkey; we have not yet experienced this. Whoever receives 51 percent of the vote will be president. The parliament will then face the following situation: When you choose the president you are electing the government. But where parliamentary elections are concerned, will those who say ‘these must remain in power, we can’t risk instability; keep one party in power,’ show the same sensitivity to the AK Party? There is already a president and a government. Because they have no need for that kind of stability, from now on people will make their choice very easily in future parliamentary elections without concern for keeping a party in power.”

Translated by Şeref Güçlü from Cumhuriyet

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