Only new charter can ‘help’ Turkey’s image


Accomplishing the new constitution could repair Turkey’s tarnished image over ongoing Gezi Park protests, the Parliament Speaker has said, adding the inter-party commission could conclude writing of the rest of the charter in the last 15 days.

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

“If we can make the new constitution, we’ll be able to demonstrate that we are giving up neither the democracy nor the republic,” he stressed, adding “If our four parties can succeed to produce a common text, those in Taksim (protestors of the Gezi Park) and elsewhere will have to respect it.”

Recalling that peaceful demonstrations were under constitutional guarantee as long as they do not turn into violent incidents threatening the public order, Çiçek said “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.”

Giving 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

“Give it to my optimism. But I am of the opinion that we can come to a point in 15 days,” he stressed, if the commission would accelerate its work. 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 with the system and the commission should first better conclude its parts non-related with 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 and that’s why all political parties pledged to renew it, Çiçek said, “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.”



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