A number of academics, former generals, well-known intellectuals and writers expressed in a statement released on Wednesday their objection to the removal of the term “Turkishness” from the constitution currently being drafted.
The new constitution is expected to be free of any emphasis on ethnicity when defining citizenship and other related issues.
The group, which includes renowned historians Professor Halil İnalcık and Professor İlber Ortaylı; writer Alev Alatlı; Hasan Celal Güzel, an advisor to former President Turgut Özal; former Parliament Speaker Hüsamettin Cindoruk; retired Gen. Edip Başer and other influential figures, said in the statement that the reference to the “Turkish nation” cannot be removed from the Constitution.
How to define citizenship in new constitution, which is being currently drafted by the parliamentary Constitutional Reconciliation Commission, is one of the contested political issues that deeply polarized society and political parties in Parliament.
The issue is also related to settlement of the decades-old Kurdish dispute as government has launched a new initiative to resolve the conflict through peaceful and political means with extending rights of Turkey's Kurds. Drafting a new constitution is one of the most significant components of any settlement of the Kurdish conflict, experts say.
Along with liberals and democrats, Kurdish politicians strongly oppose any emphasis on ethnicity in the new constitution.
The statement said the nation-state, which was founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, marking the continuing sovereign presence of Turkish nation in Anatolia since Ottomans and Seljuks, can’t be excluded from new constitution.