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Erdoğan: Turkey to have democratic, liberal constitution to guide in upcoming century

Erdoğan: Turkey to have democratic, liberal constitution to guide in upcoming century

Turkey will have a comprehensive, clear, democratic and liberal constitution to guide in the upcoming century, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated on Thursday amid debates for a new civil constitution for Turkey.

Erdoğan, during an extended provincial heads meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) via video link, stated that that among the latest reforms, the offer for a new constitution was the most significant.

“We’re the party that completely changed the democratic and economic face of our country with many reforms that we call silent revolutions,” he added.

Since 1982, the current Constitution, drafted following a military coup, has seen a number of amendments.

The bloody 1980 coup, which led to the detention of hundreds of thousands of people along with mass trials, torture and executions, still stands as a black stain in Turkish political history.

Erdoğan on Feb. 1 had announced, “It is time for Turkey to discuss a new constitution again.”

The president’s proposal came four years after the 2017 constitutional referendum asked voters to decide on an 18-article bill to switch from a parliamentary to a presidential system, among other changes. The amendments to the Constitution were jointly introduced by the AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Erdoğan was elected president under the new system in 2018.

Erdoğan wants Turkey to have a civilian-drafted constitution by 2023, coinciding with the centenary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey.

Erdoğan also underlined that the doors are open for all political parties to contribute to constitutional reform.

The AK Party has 289 seats in the 600-seat Parliament, while the MHP has 48, adding up to 337, but this falls short of the 360-vote supermajority needed to pass a new constitution.

Even if all 600 deputies in Parliament say “yes” to the proposal, a national referendum will be held to assess the will of the people, Erdoğan had stated.

Following the president’s announcement, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli pledged support on the need for a new civilian constitution; however, the opposition objected.

So far, the opposition parties, including the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), have opposed the calls, claiming that the president’s initiative to reform the constitution equates to the “failure of the presidential system.”

Opposition parties including the CHP and the Good Party (IP) argue that Turkey should return to the parliamentary system.

Erdoğan reiterated that he announced the human rights action plan earlier this week while in the upcoming week he will announce the economic reform package.

Turkey on Tuesday announced its new action plan on human rights, which has 11 main principles set to be carried out over the course of two years.

Initially mentioned during the announcement of the first Judicial Reform Package, the plan is based on the vision of “Free Individuals, Strong Society: More Democratic Turkey.” Its motto, however, is the following: “Let people live so the state will live!” The plan originates from the state’s “obligation to protect, in all of its affairs and acts and with all of the state institutions and organizations, the physical and moral integrity and the honor and dignity of individuals.”

Around the 11 main principles that constitute the backbone of the plan, a total of nine aims, 50 goals and 393 activities have been set. The activities envisioned within the framework of each goal under the relevant aims are organized as tangible “measurable and monitorable” actions.

The plan focuses on the topics of freedom, the right to security, the right to a fair trial, freedom of speech as well as the rights of women and the disabled. The enhancement of these rights and liberties has seen setbacks in the bureaucracy that have prevented these rights and liberties from being implemented properly. The plan has been prepared in accordance with the observations and reports of the international mechanisms that monitor human rights in cooperation with several human rights groups.