Try the leaders but hands off the constitution

Try the leaders but hands off the constitution

I keep amusing myself with foreign journalists’ questions these days. In fact, I feel more saddened than amused. They all speak of a truth we all know. 

“You brought the soldiers who engineered the coup before justice. That is a crucial step. What we fail to understand, however, is that you are not budging an inch to alter the constitutional order they established... What else does this signify but a contradiction?”

Could anyone fancy a more blatant, greater contradiction than this?

This is what we call “eastern guile.”

It all began with Turgut Özal’s government. Once he settled into the office of the prime ministry, he never bothered with it. The junta had amended the Law of Political Parties to make it more democratic. Özal’s first move was to return back to the old order. He saw that the 10 percent electoral threshold worked to the benefit of large parties and never even laid a finger on it. He kept all articles that guaranteed his stay in power intact. 

The Motherland Party (ANAP) left the scene, to be replaced first by Demirel and then Çiller. 
It was said the country was being torn into pieces, and that democracy was incompatible with the terrorism of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK.) This was followed by the enactment of even tighter measures than those implemented by the military. It was no time to ramble on about such matters as democracy in the constitution. 

What baffled me most was the Justice and Development Party (AKP) that came to power through a pledge for “democracy and freedom.” 

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could have amended this constitution during his nine-year-long tenure had he wanted it, but he also took advantage of many of the articles. 
That path is now exhausted. 

No one has the right to object now, primarily the opposition that is struggling for democracy and freedoms. 
There will be a hefty price tag on exploiting the new constitution for partisan politics. 

This game with Iran will go on and on
There is a crucial difference between Iran and us. 

We are generally inclined to accept statements emanating from Tehran at face value. When I talk about “we,” I am not talking about our diplomats. I mean more the media, certain experts and the public. 

Iran, on the other hand, believes no one. They follow highly flexible, witty policies. Conflicting voices sometimes arise, as decisions are made at several centers, particularly with respect to the issue of nuclear energy, and now regarding Syria. Those who are aware of these finely tuned politics do not take offense. We, on the other hand, do take offense, as it is the country’s boss whose words count for us. 

Prime Minister Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu spoke to everyone in Iran last week. They attracted their correspondents’ attention and spoke of the sensitivities of the Turkish public. 

They both returned in contentment. In fact, Davutoğlu said Iran and Turkey mutually understood each other even if they were not in agreement. He even went further and said the tough anti-Turkey rhetoric employed by Hussein İbrahimi, the head of Iranian Parliament’s Foreign Policy and National Security Commission, in relation to the missile shield project did not reflect Iran’s foreign policy. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salihi also made a promise, he added. 

Just the other day, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Laricani flew into a fit of rage. He claimed the “Friends of Syria” meeting in Istanbul was organized “to give Israel breathing space.” He questioned why “participant countries maintained their silence in the face of dictatorships in other countries, such as Bahrain, if they are so apprehensive about democracy.” Muhammed Kevseri, the deputy head of Iranian Parliament’s Foreign Policy and National Security Commission called the meeting “Enemies of Syria” and accused Turkey of “catering to imperialism.”

It all must have gone a bit too far, as Iran’s ambassador to Ankara was called to the Foreign Ministry for an explanation, while Davutoğlu downplayed the affair in an attempt to mollify the Turkish public by indicating that the only binding statements were those delivered by the foreign minister, president and religious leader. 

Let us get used to the Iranians and not hop on the wrong rope extended to us.

1980, kenan evren,