Making and unmaking a constittion

Making and unmaking a constittion

Professor Şükrü Karatepe, one of the president’s advisors, recently spoke about the constitutional amendment that we will vote on in the referendum on April 17. “Perhaps we will implement it for three or five years. Then we’ll take a look and if we see if it is working or not. If it is not, we’ll get parliament to change it again,” he said.

Karatepe is an expert in constitutional law. He is a professor. He has written a textbook called “An Introduction to Constitutional Law.” In other words, he is someone we should take seriously. But just look at what he said. 

What we call a constitution is a legal document that determines the administration of the state. It shows which organs the people will exercise their sovereignty with and defines citizens’ rights.

Encapsulating fundamental rules, the constitution outlines the principal law above all other legal documents. It is not just a vase you can paint however you want. You can’t say: “You painted it. If you didn’t like it, you can paint it again.”

If we look at the statements of those ruling the state, Turkey is facing a fundamental existential threat. Our independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity is under threat. 

They are attempting to change the fundamental law of the state with an understanding based on “Let’s try and see.”

The current constitution, which is a legacy of the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup, has been changed several times. Each time, parliament has come together, there have been long works in the relevant commissions, and the amendments have been passed with the greatest possible participation. There have even been referendums for some of these amendments. 

Now look at where we have ended up.

Two officials who ignore parliament

Reşat Petek, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) member who headed the parliamentary commission researching the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, recently responded to questions posed by our colleague Murat Yetkin.

Asked about the fact that Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Chief Hakan Fidan have not testified in front of the commission, Petek said the following:

“At the point when the absence of their testimony was perceived by the public as a shortcoming of the commission report, we wrote to the chief of general chief and the MİT. We did not receive an answer from the MİT. It did not even respond to us to say it could not answer. Then came the referendum process. We also forwarded questions to the general staff headquarters but nothing come from there either. We are still expecting a response, of course.”

Personally, I could not understand the relationship between the fact that the MİT did not send any response and the referendum process. It is clear that Petek is simply trying to create an alibi for the MİT’s superior attitude toward parliament.

They may not have responded to the commission, but there are several issues that the chief of general staff and the MİT undersecretary still need to clarify about the coup attempt.

1) Why did they not evaluate the information they received earlier on the day of July 15 as suggesting an impending coup attempt?

2) Why did the chief of general staff, who could have prevented the coup by issuing orders while the soldiers were still in their barracks, not issue those orders? 

3) Why did the MİT undersecretary not inform the president of what was happening?

4) If he did not want to inform him because the president was “resting,” why did he not instead warn the president’s security chief about the coup?

5) Why did the MİT chief not inform the prime minister? Why did he not warn his security guards?

6) Why was the Interior Ministry not informed of what was going on?