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Significance of new constitution for Turkey

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Although the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power in 2002 through democratic elections and it is a party that primarily represents religious groups, it can be seen as a founding party like the Republican People's Party (CHP) of the 1920s. History has given the AK Party the opportunity to represent change and rectify ideological faults in this country. And overall, it has performed well in fulfilling this duty.

During the last 10 years, Turkey's appearance has changed considerably. Over time, proponents of democracy in addition to religious people have come to support the AK Party. During the last 10 years, there have been struggles against coup preparations, coup attempts and deep state activities. The fact that the West Study Group (BCG), which planned and implemented the postmodern coup of Feb. 28, 1997, continued to function until May 15, 2009, is proof that these struggles were significant.

The case against the members of the Ergenekon terrorist group -- a clandestine organization nested within the state trying to overthrow or manipulate the democratically elected government -- exposed only the criminal part of this complex structure to the extent that it was uncovered by prosecutors. The act of overthrowing "deviating" civilian administrations, which used to be perceived as a very normal and even patriotic duty in the past, is now seen as an offense.

This was made possible due to the fact that, for the first time, a political party (the AK Party) was determined to resist the subversive activities and, at the same time, bold prosecutors and judges launched a major trial to penalize those criminal activities. Thus, the vital ideological and criminal deviations, backed by the state apparatus, could be brought to light.

As this process of shedding light on the unresolved tragic incidents of the past continued, the diverse social groups that used to put the blame for these incidents on each other have come to realize that the source of the problem was the deviated state mentality. So they have started to give more support to democratic values. The AK Party has maintained its position as the political representative of this democratic coalition, as long as it continues to advocate for these values and build a democratic state.

The progress made is significant, but it also entails continued efforts. The process of change that Turkey has undergone during the last 10 years, turning from an easily manipulated, ineffective, economically weak and unstable country into a powerful player in its region and around the world, of course, cannot be divorced from the democratic reforms of the last decade. As Turkey abandoned the old state mentality, it grew stronger. In other words, steps toward democratization must be maintained uninterrupted for this positive trend to continue.

In this context, our primary target should now be to take the process of drafting a civilian constitution to successful completion. Remember, this country has been ruled with three constitutions, all drafted by the tutelary regimes, for the last 90 years. Irrespective of whether they are good or bad, or if they have been amended or not over time, the texts of these constitutions are anti-democratic in that they were not backed by the public. They were made by the ruling elites, who would parrot, "This public/Parliament cannot draft a constitution." For the first time, the public/Parliament came closer to drafting a constitution on its own.

The Constitutional Reconciliation Commission assembled and examined the proposals from dozens of civil society organizations and other organizations. Hundreds of meetings have been held across the country and proposals have also been collected from the general public. This democratic method, which should normally be used in a constitution drafting process, has created enthusiasm. Now, it is the duty of Parliament to write down a good constitution using these materials. What people expect is to get rid of the Constitution of 1982 and have their first civilian social contract as soon as possible.

I hope politicians can fulfill their responsibility in this regard by seeing and performing the principal duty of drafting a constitution that will consolidate the achievements of the last 10 years and block regressions.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/asianet/130404/significance-new-constitution-turkey