Only new charter can ‘help’ Turkey’s image

Only new charter can ‘help’ Turkey’s image

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Only new charter can ‘help’ Turkey’s image

The thousands of protestors in Taksim had an opportunity to chill out thanks to a joint piano concert by Davide Martello and Yiğit Özatalay late June 12. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Completing the writing of a new Constitution could repair Turkey’s tarnished image after the Gezi Park protests, the Parliament Speaker has said, adding that the inter-party commission could conclude writing of the rest of the charter within 15 days.

“It’s been 17 days. Turkey is facing an incredible campaign. These developments have widely damaged Turkey’s image. The new Constitution is the best answer to give to this campaign [depicting Turkey] as if its democracy is artificial and fundamental rights and freedoms are at stake,” Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek said Thursday at a conference held at the USAK (International Strategic Research Organization), an Ankara-based think-tank.

“If we can write the new Constitution, we’ll be able to demonstrate that we are giving up on neither the democracy nor the republic,” he stressed. “If our four parties can succeed in producing a common text, those in Taksim [the Gezi Park protesters] and elsewhere will have to respect it.”

Çiçek recalled that peaceful demonstrations were constitutionally guaranteed as long as they do not turn into violent incidents threatening the public order. “More room should be given to fundamental rights and freedoms. But demands for rights and freedoms should not be made in an unlawful way. Whatever Constitution should it be, it has to reject violent methods to demand for more rights,” he said.

Also providing substantial information on the Constitution-making process, Çiçek said the four-party commission concluded writing of 45 articles, but “the sun was set to go down” for the compromised charter.

Regime debate to flare after 2014

“Put it down to my optimism, but I am of the opinion that we can come to a point in 15 days,” he stressed. The most important question before the new Constitution seems to be the government’s insistence in changing the administrative system into the presidential system, according to the opposition parties. When asked about this concern, Çiçek said not all of articles of the charter were related to this system, meaning that the commission should first conclude those parts not related to the presidential system.

“I believe we can conclude articles that have nothing to do with the system. For example, fundamental rights and freedoms, the functions of the judiciary and even some functions of the legislation could be complete if the commission intensifies its work,” the speaker said.

The junta-made current Constitution has a negative effect on political and legal stability of the country, which is why all political parties have pledged to renew it, Çiçek said, adding: “A new constitution is a must.”

The parameters of Turkish political system will be changed following the popular election of the next president in August 2014 and opposition-government balance will be replaced by president-prime minister balance, Çiçek said, adding amending the Constitution has become a must in order to prevent regime discussions in Turkey.

If we cannot succeed in making the new Constitution we will risk to have our charisma damaged, Çiçek said, “If we cannot make it, we will counted as politicians who could not renew the constitution written by five generals. I should underline this point: If we fail in this, the office of the Parliament Speaker cannot be found blamable .”

Lack of democratic culture

As a veteran politician, Çiçek expressed important observations and his findings about the lack of democratic and political culture in Turkey. The Parliament speaker described Tuesday parliamentary group meetings of the political parties as the main obstacle before developing a political and democratic culture in Turkey. “The culture of compromise and tolerance do exist in the society but not among the politicians and intellectuals,” he stressed.

Existing political culture in Turkey categorizes compromise as political weakness, changes in political stance as “ideological betrayal”, according to Çiçek who added “We have no culture of compromise. We have it in the society but not among the intellectual or political circles. As the Parliament, we do not constitute a good example for the rest of the country.”