Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech as he campaigns ahead of the March 29 local elections in central Anatolian city of Sivas February 13, 2009. Turkey's government will resume talks with the opposition on drafting a new civilian constitution after March 29 local elections, Erdogan said on Friday.    REUTERS/Kayhan Ozer/Prime Minister's Press Office/Handout (TURKEY).  FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. *** Local Caption ***  ANK01_TURKEY-ERDOGA_0213_11.JPG
The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, campaigns in Sivas, ahead of the country's local elections.

Turkey in uphill battle to meet EU rules

ISTANBUL // In a new effort to fulfil a key demand by the European Union, Turkey's prime minister says he wants to set up all-party talks to hammer out a more democratic constitution for the country, but he is facing an uphill struggle to convince his critics that this time he really means it. "We will start that effort in April," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week. The speaker of the Turkish parliament, Koksal Toptan, a member of Mr Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, told the Sabah newspaper this week he would try to get negotiations with party leaders under way after local elections scheduled for March 29. A new constitution or a comprehensive overhaul of the present one would be a powerful symbol for democratic change in this predominantly Muslim but secular country of 70 million people, and would also offer a vision of what sort of country modern Turkey aspires to be. The current constitution was put into place after the last military coup of 1982, and some critics say the text contains so many restrictions of basic rights that it has to be scrapped altogether. EU officials have said constitutional reform is one of the most important issues on Turkey's agenda this year. "By the time we have changed another 20 to 30 articles, the name 'army constitution' or 'constitution of 82' may still be around, but with view to the content, it will have turned into a civilian constitution," Burhan Kuzu, chairman of the constitutional commission in Turkey's parliament, told journalists. But although there is a broad consensus that Turkey needs a new basic law as it proceeds on its path towards membership of the European Union, there is much less agreement on what a new constitution should look like, who should write it and who should vote on it. Fresh from a resounding election victory, Mr Erdogan angered the opposition in late 2007 when he asked a team of experts to write a draft for a new constitution. The secular opposition saw the initiative as a sign that the AKP, which has roots in political Islam, is trying to undermine the republic. Although Mr Erdogan promised to publish the draft and discuss it with other parties and organisation, he has not done so. This time, things will be different, senior AKP officials promise. Mr Kuzu, of the constitutional commission, said he was ready to work on changes to the current constitutions or write a completely new constitution with his colleagues. By introducing a new Kurdish television station, by appointing Turkey's first EU minister in charge of accession talks and by visiting Brussels for the first time in five years, Mr Erdogan has signalled since the start of the new year that his government wishes to return to the reform process that won it international praise between 2003 and 2005. Officials say the AKP is reaching out to the opposition to get an agreement on constitutional changes, even though it has the power to muscle through constitutional amendments with the help of its 338 deputies and of smaller allies in parliament. "It is numerically possible to change the constitution without the main opposition party, but changing the constitution is not a matter of majorities in parliament, it is a matter of agreement," said Cemil Cicek, the deputy prime minister. Mr Cicek was referring to the Republican People's Party, or CHP, the biggest opposition group in parliament and Turkey's main secular party. Earlier constitutional amendments pushed through by the AKP heightened the CHP's suspicion that the ruling party wants to change Turkey's secular order. One of those amendments, a decision to lift the headscarf ban, was cited in a trial against the AKP before the constitutional court, which came close to banning the ruling party last year. If the first CHP reactions to the AKP's overtures are anything to go by, the government will have to try harder to get the opposition to join talks. "It is not on the CHP's agenda to agree on constitutional changes with a government that has been identified as a focal point of anti-secular activities by the constitutional court," Hakki Suha Okay, a leading CHP official, told the Turkish news agency Anadolu. The current constitution has been amended several times in recent years to bring Turkey closer to the EU. In many cases the AKP government and the CHP worked together, but that bipartisan spirit has gone. In parliament, the CHP has refused to participate in commissions debating further constitutional changes. The CHP may come under pressure to return to the table, however. Mr Cicek said the government wanted at least to pass constitutional amendments that are vital for progress on the EU front. One planned amendment concerns the constitutional framework for an ombudsman system as an instrument for citizens to scrutinise administrative decisions. The EU wants Turkey to introduce the system, so the CHP could risk appearing like a naysayer that puts party politics over what is good for the country. But even if the CHP changes its mind, the opposition and the government may find it hard to agree on a whole new constitution and may settle for less. "They may end up with some changes, but I don't think there will be a consensus on a completely new constitution," said Erdal Kabatepe, the chairman of the EU-Turkey Co-operation Association, a pro-European lobby group. tseibert@thenational.ae

The specs: 2019 Mini Cooper

Price, base: Dh141,740 (three-door) / Dh165,900 (five-door)
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder (Cooper) / 2.0-litre four-cylinder (Cooper S)
Power: 136hp @ 4,500rpm (Cooper) / 192hp @ 5,000rpm (Cooper S)
Torque: 220Nm @ 1,480rpm (Cooper) / 280Nm @ 1,350rpm (Cooper S)
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Fuel consumption, combined: 4.8L to 5.4L / 100km

Getting there

Etihad Airways flies daily to the Maldives from Abu Dhabi. The journey takes four hours and return fares start from Dh3,995. Opt for the 3am flight and you’ll land at 6am, giving you the entire day to adjust to island time.  

Round trip speedboat transfers to the resort are bookable via Anantara and cost $265 per person.  

Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff
By Sean Penn
Simon & Schuster

Washmen Profile

Date Started: May 2015

Founders: Rami Shaar and Jad Halaoui

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: Laundry

Employees: 170

Funding: about $8m

Funders: Addventure, B&Y Partners, Clara Ventures, Cedar Mundi Partners, Henkel Ventures

Company Profile

Company name: EduPloyment
Date started: March 2020
Co-Founders: Mazen Omair and Rana Batterjee
Base: Dubai, UAE
Sector: Recruitment
Size: 30 employees
Investment stage: Pre-Seed
Investors: Angel investors (investment amount undisclosed)


July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Director: Peyton Reed

Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas

Three stars


Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

The specs: 2018 Nissan 370Z Nismo

The specs: 2018 Nissan 370Z Nismo
Price, base / as tested: Dh182,178
Engine: 3.7-litre V6
Power: 350hp @ 7,400rpm
Torque: 374Nm @ 5,200rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
​​​​​​​Fuel consumption, combined: 10.5L / 100km


Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Series result

1st ODI Zimbabwe won by 6 wickets

2nd ODI Sri Lanka won by 7 wickets

3rd ODI Sri Lanka won by 8 wickets

4th ODI Zimbabwe won by 4 wickets

5th ODI Zimbabwe won by 3 wickets

The UAE Today

The latest news and analysis from the Emirates

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      The UAE Today