President Abdullah Gül said on Wednesday that the current Constitution lags behind the democratic development Turkey has achieved while suggesting that a new constitution to be prepared for the country should not carry the stamp of any ideology or doctrine.
“Every constitution will have a philosophy and spirit. Nevertheless, constitutions should not carry the stamp of a specific idea, party, ideology or doctrine,” Gül said.
His remarks came at a ceremony in Ankara on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Turkey’s Constitutional Court.
The ceremony, hosted by chief Justice Haşim Kılıç, was attended by top state brass including Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) President Nicolas Bratza, chief justices from around 50 countries and jurists.
In his speech, President Gül said the current Constitution, which was prepared in the aftermath of the 1980 military coup, has lost its validity and falls short of meeting the democratic and economic levels achieved by the Turkish nation, despite the very comprehensive reforms undertaken in recent years.
“The 1982 Constitution is the product of a coup favoring tutelage, and it is bureaucratic and authoritarian in nature and bears the legacy and the spirit of the time. For that reason, the preparation of a new constitution is imperative. Furthermore, being ruled by a constitution that is a product of an interim period as we try to face up to coups as a nation is deeply contradictory to the democratic level achieved in our country,” he said.
Turkey’s long-awaited expectations for a new civilian constitution have become stronger than ever since the June 12 parliamentary elections. All of the parties represented in Parliament vowed to draft a new constitution to replace the existing one, which was drafted under martial law after the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup and has long been criticized for failing to respond to today’s needs for broader rights and freedoms. A commission in Parliament is currently working on the drafting process of the new constitution.
Prime Minister Erdoğan on Wednesday released a message to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Constitutional Court. In his message, he said it is impossible to talk about growth and development in a society where fundamental rights and liberties are not secured and where feelings of justice and truthfulness have not settled. Taking these into consideration, Erdoğan said it is a national duty and responsibility to make a strong constitution that will contribute to Turkey’s democratization, economic development, achievement of its future goals and meet the legitimate demands of the people.
In his speech, Chief Justice Kılıç said while the Constitutional Court serves as an arbitrator among political actors in line with the constitutional boundaries, it couldn’t be an institution that provides logistical support to any of the parties or one that will serve as an institution to trip up the representatives of the nation’s will.
Kılıç said the main goal of the judiciary is to ensure that fundamental rights and freedoms are exercised fully.
The chief justice also offered his thanks to France’s Constitutional Council, which in February cancelled a bill criminalizing the denial of Armenian claims of genocide.
The 11-member French Constitutional Council overturned a controversial bill that would criminalize the denial that the 1915 killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire constituted genocide.
Kılıç said he congratulates and thanks the members of the court for their loyalty to human dignity by not carrying something from history to today that would create new problems between the countries.