Are we voting for the system only?
Turkey is heading toward a referendum that bears meanings beyond the normal change of a system or an administration style. Regardless of the outcome of the referendum being a “Yes” or a “No,” economic and foreign policies will be affected by it. If a “Yes” vote prevails, then it will definitely be more affected.
These words of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are a sign of that: “We no longer need their criteria. We have our own Ankara criteria. Our democracy is adequate for us. We have adopted and practiced democracy and human rights not because they want so but because our citizens deserve them. As we [continue to] stay intact and do not collapse, they become short of breath. The ‘sick man’ is now the European Union.”
These words that create tremors of excitement among masses are the expression of radical change in the policy Turkey has been pursuing for at least 50 years.
However, politicians in charge of the economy speak a different language. “We will develop our friendship. We will deepen our relations; from today, we will plan for our future steps. In this sense, Turkey’s target is set. Turkey’s journey is, together with its European friends, a civilization journey,” Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi said on March 20 about Turkey-Europe relations.
Zeybekçi has also emphasized that disrupting Turkey-Europe relations would only make terror organizations happy.
This statement by Zeybekçi on terror organizations is extremely important because as Turkey’s relations with Europe degenerate and especially as the tension on the “democracy criteria” increases, terror organizations will try to gain ground in the West with the discourse of “freedom fight.” In this sense, democracy and the rule of law are not only an indispensable prerequisite for life and honor of our citizens but also for the international reputation and the security of our country.
The other day, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek said, “Turkey will not break off with the West or anything else; just the opposite. Turkey wants to strengthen its ties with the West and the rest of the world.”
Statements emphasizing that Europe has been keeping us at its door for 50 years, indeed, exhilarate masses, because they address national pride, and national pride is a huge source of power for nations. However, national power should be facilitated for successes in science, economy and arts.
Besides, while we were waiting at the door of the EU and as we declared the Copenhagen criteria as our state policy, during the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) rule, $600 billion poured into Turkey - more than 70 percent of this was Western capital.
Apparently, we are talking about anything else such as the “controlled coup,” which is an empty polemic that remains to be proven, as well as unrelated hadiths, but not the “18 articles” that we should actually talk about.
However, if in the presidential system Turkey is going to follow a different path than the EU policy, and if “criteria” will change, these will bear much heavier radical consequences than a system change.
System-changing referenda are more important than normal constitutional referenda. If criteria and basic policies are to change then they are much more important.
No matter what the system is, the most critical issue is “checks and balances.” This, in turn, is about how strong the parliament is against the executive body and how independent the judiciary will remain before both the executive and legislature.
To avoid the mistakes, which are inevitable from a human’s point of view, in a state administration, it is a must that the parliament should be strong and pluralistic. To prevent injustices, the judiciary should be independent and impartial.