Demanding a report on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s health has become a matter of national security, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said on Wednesday.
Erdoğan was confusing comments by his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials for what Kılıçdaroğlu had said, according to the opposition leader.
“Prominent members of the AK Party demand a change to the first four articles of the Constitution, while Erdoğan thinks it was me,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in a tweet.
“It is a matter of state security to demand a report of good health. Erdoğan must get a health report from an independent institution, and do it immediately,” he said.
The first two articles of Turkey’s constitution define Turkey as a republic, and a “democratic, secular and social state governed by rule of law, within the notions of public peace, national solidarity and justice, respecting human rights, loyal to the nationalism of Atatürk”.
Article 3 says Turkey “with its territory and nation, is an indivisible entity”, defines the official language as Turkish. It also identifies the flag, national anthem, and capital.
The fourth article says the first three articles “shall not be amended, nor shall their amendment be proposed”.
The first four articles of the Constitution have been a point of dispute in previous attempts to write a new constitution for the country. The current document was adapted in a referendum in 1982, under the junta that still controlled the government following the 1980 military coup.
In the most recent dispute, former Parliamentary Speaker İsmail Kahraman, who currently serves as the deputy chairman of the Presidential High Advisory Council, said there should be no “non-amendable” articles in the constitution.
All articles of a constitution “may change, in accordance with the desires of the nation”, Kahraman said on Saturday, speaking at a conference organised by a pro-government foundation, according to a report by Independent Turkish.
Kahraman also said only five countries had secularism as a principle in their constitutions, and that it would be “very wrong” to “act like (religion) is not in the environment we are in”.
On Tuesday, Erdoğan told his AKP group meeting that “certain people are winking at the political entity that is guided by the PKK by saying the first four articles could be changed if necessary”.
Erdoğan also accused Kılıçdaroğlu of working in tandem with the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to further the goals of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The president asked, “Is it the idea of all CHP members to change the first four articles of the Constitution, or is it Kılıçdaroğlu’s personal opinion?”
Steven A. Cook, Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow in Middle East and Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, had penned an article for Foreign Policy on Friday, pointing to “growing evidence” that Erdoğan was “ailing”, to the point of being too sick to lead the country.
Cook told Ahval in a podcast on Monday that Erdoğan looked “gaunt” at times, and that the senior fellow had received information that there may be a concerted effort to hide the president’s deteriorating health.