A good start for a new constitution
Turkish Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek announced yesterday that all four parties having a group in the Parliament have agreed on a roadmap on writing a new constitution.
The announcement came after a two weeks work – quite reasonable time by Turkish standards; that is an indication that the parties are willing to work together for a new constitution.
He said that the Constitution Reconciliation Commission has aimed to give a new constitution to Turkey by the end of 2012.
This is going to be the first Turkish constitution to be written not under circumstances of wars, revolutions or coups d’etat – unlike those of 1876, 1908, 1924, 1961 and 1982.
The 1982 constitution have been imposed by the military regime who took the power in 1980.
“The criticism about it started the day after,” Çiçek recalled in a press conference yesterday in Istanbul, in the historical Dolmabahçe Palace by the Bosphorus. The first changes on the 1982 constitution had started in 1987 as soon as Turkey started to return to normal democratic life; the same year Ankara had applied to become a member of the European Union. Since then 113 articles of the Constitution have been changed by the Parliament in 17 steps, with “the shadow of the military still upon it,” Çiçek said. He emphasized the need for a freedoms- and citizen rights-oriented constitution for Turkey with the highest possible contribution by the people.
Yesterday’s conference with the press was a good example of that spirit of the constitution and representation.
First of all, Çiçek did not give the press conference alone. The commission members from the ruling Justice and development Party (AK Party), main opposition social democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Kurdish problem-oriented Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) were present.
Second, Çiçek invited the editors-in-chief of all national newspapers and TV stations, from the far left to the far right, and from the religious papers to the papers of the Greek, Jewish and Armenian minorities in Turkey; all of this has no example before in republican history.
Third, he made a call saying that they welcomed the contribution of every citizen, association and institution of Turkey, either via a web page opened on the parliamentary site or directly. For written contributions, he gave the deadline as Dec. 31, 2011, and for those through exclusive meetings and conferences as the end of April 2012.
This approach of Çiçek is important especially when the government is trying to bring a solution to the Kurdish problem and at the same time trying to defy the terror attacks of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Cemil Çiçek had a good start by managing to moderate the situation and bringing all parties together. If he manages to continue the line, that would not give only a more democratic constitution to Turkey but a new push forward.