Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, who met with senior editors of the country's newspapers and TV stations on Thursday morning, introduced the roadmap, which lays out the guiding principles to be followed during the commission's work. According to the new roadmap, the commission will form three technical delegations of five persons each by Nov. 15.
Speaking to high-level representatives of the Turkish media at Dolmabahçe Palace on Thursday morning, Çiçek noted that the first meeting of the commission took place on Oct. 19, 2011. The commission until today has had four meetings with its 12 members, while its subcommittee has convened five times. The 15-point plan on the principles of conducting the commission's work came out of these meetings.
Çiçek said that the three delegations will coordinate the process of collecting views and suggestions from groups outside Parliament. “The first delegation will be in contact with political parties and constitutional agencies, the second with professional unions, the third with civil society groups, associations, foundations and representatives of religious and minority communities.” He said the planned deadline for collecting, sorting and reviewing suggestions was scheduled for the end of next April but urged any contributors to send in their suggestions by Dec. 31, this year.
Three subcommittees with a deputy from each political party will evaluate the suggestions after their assessment by the technical delegations.
“Subcommittee members will also invite the members of those organizations to hear their thoughts in person,” he said. Çiçek reiterated the need for a new constitution, saying: “It stands as fact that the authoritarian legacy left by the Sept. 12  administration in the 1982 Constitution cannot be eradicated through partial amendments. Past changes have shown that we cannot reach universal democratic standards by changes to that constitution.”
Members of the Constitutional Reconciliation Commission Mustafa Şentop from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Süheyl Batum from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Tunca Toskay from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) along with Sırrı Süreyya Önder and Ahmet Altın from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) were also in attendance at Thursday’s meeting.
Çiçek thanked the participants of the meeting and said criticism directed at the 1982 Constitution had started practically the morning after it was adopted, noting that the intensity of criticism against it had steadily increased from 1982 onwards.
The parliament speaker noted that political parties, civil society groups and professional unions have submitted various proposals and drafted alternative constitutions, adding that there have also been suggested constitutions drafted by single persons. He recalled that particularly in 1993, many political parties drafted new constitutions to suggest to Parliament.
He said the current constitution has been changed 17 times with 113 articles amended during these changes. “Despite all these changes, the 1982 Constitution has failed to outgrow the shadows of military custodianship cast around it and its image as a coup constitution, and it has never been approved by the people.” Çiçek said Parliament wanted to draft a new constitution focused on the individual, one that is pro-freedoms and for a pluralist democracy and human rights. “This can only be possible with the adoption of a new constitution,” he said.
Almost all political parties included adopting a more democratic constitution for Turkey as a promise in their election campaigns for the June 12 general elections, Çiçek noted, adding that there is a serious expectation on the part of the people for a new constitution to emerge from the current Parliament. “Our people see the source of many problems in the constitution. We have to produce a social contract that will carry our country to the future, where everyone will be saying ‘this is my constitution.’ The consensus on this need in the public and among political parties is our biggest advantage. We believe that we don’t have the luxury to disappoint the people. This is a priority factor that all party and commission members agree on.”
Turkey is taken as an example for the countries around it, Çiçek stated, and said the media’s support was crucial for Turkey to emerge from what he called “this historical process” with pride. “We want you,” he said addressing the chief editors in the room, “to support this process, encourage participation of the people and offer guidance whenever the commission’s work is at a standstill. We really need this.”
He noted that world examples showed that drafting a new constitution is a difficult process, often fraught with problems, adding this was a natural part of the process. “It is not an easy process. To the contrary, it demands maximum patience. It is most natural for problems to arise at any stage, including the methodology to be followed to the content of the text.” Çiçek said the process was not to be about imposing one’s opinions on others, but about creating a social contract through consensus and reconciliation.
Editors-in-chief of 33 newspapers, including Agos, Jamanak, Shalom and Apoyevmatini, five news agencies, three periodicals, two English-language newspapers, including Today’s Zaman, and representatives of 31 television stations participated in the media meeting.