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March 11, 2012, Sunday

Kurdish issue and the new constitution

The Abant Platform, which has tackled pressing issues facing Turkey since its inception in 1998, convened a three-day meeting starting on Friday to contribute to the shaping of Turkey’s new constitution.

Participants sought to discuss the problematic areas of, and propose solutions to, the constitutional drafting process. They examined the constitutional process through controversial subjects, most of which are linked to Turkey’s long-standing Kurdish problem, and say the solution of the Kurdish problem is key to Turkey having a new and democratic constitution.

Zaman’s Mümtaz’er Türköne, who has for years been participating in Abant meetings and thinks they not only present a clear picture of Turkey but also very clearly reveal the change seen in the country over time, says the latest meeting focused on the critical areas of contention of the new constitution and sought ways to address them. “This is the difference between dreaming of a new constitution and finding constitutional solutions to problems. When problems in society and politics become chronic, a malfunction emerges. In order to treat this malfunction, you need to handle the problem at the constitutional level and resolve it,” says Türköne. Türköne says the debates on the new constitution hit a wall when the Kurdish problem comes up. He says that while one group says the preparation of a new constitution is impossible in Turkey without the solution of the Kurdish problem, the other group says the Kurdish problem cannot be resolved without the preparation of a new constitution. “Both are correct, so we’ll do both,” says Türköne.

Yeni Şafak’s Murat Aksoy, who attended the latest Abant meeting, says issues such as identities, education in one’s mother tongue, local administrations and autonomy are the most controversial issues Turkey has to deal with during the creation of the new constitution. He says a harsh state discourse and pro-security measures on the Kurdish issue are seen as the biggest obstacles before the preparation of the new constitution. He thinks the solution of the Kurdish problem will have a determining role in the preparation of the new constitution. Considering the fact that the most controversial issues, such as identities and education in one’s mother tongue, which need to be addressed in the new constitution are linked to the Kurdish problem, he thinks that so long as tension on the Kurdish problem persists, it is unlikely for the parliamentary Constitutional Reconciliation Commission to reach consensus on the solutions to these issues.

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