Erdoğan says circumstances ripe to talk about a new constitution for Turkey

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reiterated his willingness to press ahead with a new constitution for Turkey, saying the circumstances in the country are ripe to discuss it.

“Today, there is a Turkey that broke the power of the [military] tutelage, stood against coup lovers and showed the determination to act independently in the international arena. The circumstances are very appropriate to talk about and draft a new constitution,” Erdoğan said at a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Wednesday.

Turkey currently has a constitution that was drafted in the aftermath of a military coup in 1980. The 1982 Constitution has undergone many amendments but is still criticized for being far from democratic and liberal.

Erdoğan said the new constitution should be shown as a historic turning point for Turkey when the 150th and 200th anniversaries of the foundation of the Turkish Republic are marked and should set an example for the world in the field of constitutional law, adding that the unhurried drafting of the document should come following negotiations with all segments of society.

During his election campaign before the 2007 general election, Erdoğan, who was prime minister at the time, promised to launch the work for the drafting of a constitution that prioritized civil liberties. The attempt subsequently failed, although a commission comprising constitutional law professors came up with a draft text.

Erdoğan’s election partner in the opposition, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, also gave a green light to the AKP’s plans for a new constitution; however, other opposition parties such as the Republican People’s Party (CHP) have expressed doubts about it.

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu earlier this week said his party does not find Erdoğan’s pledge for a new and democratic constitution reliable.

“How will a government that does not even abide by the current constitution come up with a democratic constitution? How will it convince us?” asked Kılıçdaroğlu.

Erdoğan and his AKP government have been harshly criticized for silencing dissent, violating fundamental human rights and ending the separation of powers. The AKP does not even let citizens exercise the freedoms and rights granted to them in the current constitution, critics say.

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