Turkish Parliament head outlines road map for drafting charter

Turkish Parliament head outlines road map for drafting charter

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish Parliament head outlines road map for drafting charter

Cemil Çiçek. AA photo

Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek has outlined the steps that will be taken to draft a new charter during a meeting with editors-in-chief of newspapers and television stations this morning in Istanbul.

Starting Nov. 15, three committees will be created to solicit the opinions of different organizations in society, Çiçek said.

One of the committees will contact political parties and constitutional organizations while a second will ask the opinions of professional organizations and unions. A third committee will seek advice from NGOs, foundations and religious communities.

Çiçek asked the aforementioned organizations to submit their written advice on new charter draft before the end of December. The committees will then invite representatives of the organizations for a verbal discussion of their charter proposals, Çiçek said.

"The process of drafting a new constitution is not a process of asserting one's views on others or persuading others on the correctness of one's ideas, but creating a social contract together," Çiçek said. 

Working Principles of the Constitution Conciliation Commission

1- Name of the commission

The name of the commission is the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) Constitution Conciliation Commission.

2- The task of the commission

The task of the commission is to manage the constitution-making process and to prepare the draft text of the constitution.

3- Chair of the commission

The chair of the commission is the speaker of Parliament. In his absence, one of the members of the commission assigned by the speaker will chair the session.

4- Commission meetings and agenda

The commission will meet at least twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If necessary, the number of weekly meetings can be increased. The following meeting’s agenda and its meeting day and hour will be determined at the end of each session. The commission can also convene outside of Ankara. 

5- Quorum

The commission will convene with at least one member from three political parties.

6- Decision making

The commission will make decisions with the consensus (unanimity) of all political parties making up the commission. Topics on which no decision is reached will be re-evaluated at a time the commission deems appropriate.

Whether or not the process has been completed or whether or not the final text (the entire draft) has been shaped, the matter will be determined by consensus.

7- Minutes

Full records of the commission meetings will be kept. In some cases, the commission may decide not to take the minutes down. Minutes of the meetings will be immediately distributed to members either printed or in CD form. None of the minutes will be made public before the work of the commission is complete.

8- Technical delegations

Three technical delegations will be formed by one expert from each political party and one expert from the Office of the Speaker of Parliament. The allowance and travel expenses of the experts nominated by the political parties will be paid for by the Office of the Speaker of Parliament. The technical delegation will collect data, classify and analyze it and prepare an assessment report to be submitted to the commission.

If necessary, the number of technical delegations may be increased.

9- Assigning consultants

Each political party may have a maximum of two consultants present in meetings. Consultants cannot participate in debates. Their allowance and travel expenses will be provided by the Office of the Speaker of Parliament. Consultants participating in the commission may be altered depending on the circumstances.

10- The closed meeting principle and attendance 

Commission meetings will be closed to the press. However, the commission will take the necessary measures to provide transparency. In this context, the commission, through its chair, will provide a statement at the end of the meeting consisting of content that the chair considers appropriate. Nobody except commission members, those people invited to the meeting and assigned personnel can attend the commission meetings.

11- Working period and phases

The commission aims to finish its work by the end of 2012.

The work of the commission consists of the following phases: 

1st Phase: Participation, data colleting and assessment.

2nd Phase: Determining the principles and writing the text.

3rd Phase: Publicizing the text and public debate.

4th Phase: Reviewing the draft following input from the public and transforming it into a motion.

The 1st phase will be considered finished by the end of April 2012. Deadlines for other phases will be decided by the commission. 

12- Participation

All segments of the society will be encouraged to participate in the process of writing the constitution.

13- Irreversibility of the draft text of the constitution

The draft text of the constitution, unless there is a consensus among the political parties, cannot be changed or appended either in the conciliation or legislation commissions or in the General Assembly.

In the event that a change is made on the text based on consensus after the draft text (motion) is submitted to the Office of the Speaker of Parliament, the Constitution Conciliation Commission will be consulted.

14- Situations where no clause is applicable 

The commission can review its working principles and amend them by consensus. Separately, it can create principles for those situations where no clause is applicable.

The law regulating the constitutional text and the process of its ratification will be made with the consensus of political parties after the text is completed.

15- End of the task of the commission

The task of the commission will end with the passing of the constitutional motion in the General Assembly and its passing into law or with the withdrawal – or de facto withdrawal – of one of the political parties. A political party that does not attend at least three meetings will be considered to have withdrawn.