Thursday, March 6, 2008

"Turkishness" and the New Constitution

At a conference on the Kurdish question in Turkish politics, EMPs Andrew Duff, Joost Lagendijk, and Jan Marinus Wiersma advised Turkey to abandon the concept of "Turkishness" present in the current constitution and instead focus on providing a definition of citizenship that will ensure rights are provided to all of its citizens regardless of their ethnic or religious identity. Lagendijk said, "We also strongly advise Turkey to use the new Constitution to commence a process of decentralization and to allow for the expression of cultural diversity," noted Lagendijk, adding, "The country could look to positive examples of decentralization and the recognition of differences in other European countries."

The constitutional draft composed by law professor Ergun Özbudun does seem to be moving in the right direction. See the ocntrast between its preamble and that of the current constitution.

"In line with the concept of nationalism and the reforms and principles introduced by the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Ataturk, the immortal leader and the unrivalled hero, this Constitution, which affirms the eternal existence of the Turkish nation and motherland and the indivisible unity of the Turkish state, embodies…"

"This constitution, which guarantees universal rights and freedoms stemming from human dignity that aim at enabling individuals to live together in peace and justice, which considers differences a cultural wealth and rejects all varieties of discrimination, which takes national unity as the basis and devises rules and institutions of the democratic and secular republic on the basis of human rights and the rule of law, was adopted with the free will of the Turkish nation as a symbol of devotion to the target of a modern civilization set by the founder of the republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk."

See a September 2007 article in Today's Zaman for a profile of and intrview with Özbudun.

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