20Q&20A: Turkey’s new con­sti­tu­tion,

Turkish Review - - CONTENTS - By Turgut Tarhanlı

(1) What sort of prob­lems does the con­tin­ued ex­is­tence of the 1982 con­sti­tu­tion pose for Turkey?

Both so­cially and po­lit­i­cally speak­ing, the 1982 con­sti­tu­tion was drafted with a mind­set that com­pletely val­i­dated the old par­a­digm. To clar­ify, it is a text that was drafted with a view on life as seen through the lens of “na­tional se­cu­rity.” This reached a crit­i­cal point due to the lan­guage used in the text of the Con­sti­tu­tion’s pream­ble, which be­stowed on the gov­ern­ment a stature re­served for a sa­cred en­tity. While most of the provisional amend­ments, par­tic­u­larly those con­cern­ing rights and free­doms, may have been con­sid­ered a step in the right di­rec­tion, it is safe to say that their force and im­pact were mar­gin- al. In other words, the in­flu­ence of the pre­vail­ing cli­mate in which the 1982 con­sti­tu­tion came into be­ing has per­se­vered, both in terms of the Con­sti­tu­tion’s con­crete pro­vi­sions and the per­cep­tions it has fos­tered.

For th­ese rea­sons, it is cru­cial that this grand sym­bol of the Sept. 12 spirit be com­pletely erad­i­cated. The prepa­ra­tion in­volved in draft­ing the “new” con­sti­tu­tion takes prece­dence in shap­ing such de­ci­sive ac­tion. How­ever, this will not be the fi­nal chap­ter, but rather the be­gin­ning of a new process.

(2) Do you be­lieve that the level of Turkey’s so­cial, po­lit­i­cal and ju­di­cial ma­tu­rity is suf­fi­cient to over­haul the 1982 con­sti­tu­tion?

For me, the ques­tion is more about the prepa­ra­tion of an en­tirely new con­sti­tu­tion, rather than “an over­haul of the 1982 con­sti­tu­tion.” In the study of law and pol­i­tics, the in­tent to draft a new con­sti­tu­tion rep­re­sents an act of self-de­ter­mi­na­tion by the peo­ple of a par­tic­u­lar coun­try. This is a con­cept that has been rec­og­nized as a hu­man right for almost half a cen­tury. It is not nec­es­sary, there­fore, to await the ar­rival of a cer­tain set of cir­cum­stances for the pub­lic to make their in­ten­tions known. Treat­ing the is­sue of draft­ing the new con­sti­tu­tion as a right would dis­pel the con­tro­versy of the “prin­ci­pal found­ing gov­ern­ment.” My an­swer to your ques­tion, then, is af­fir­ma­tive.

(3) What are your thoughts on the op­po­si­tion par­ties’ pre­con­di­tions for ne­go­ti­a­tion of a new con­sti­tu­tion?

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