Turkey has started work on a new constitution that will transition the nation from military to civilian rule.
The new, multi-party Constitutional Reconciliation Commission met in the capital of Ankara on Monday and Tuesday to begin reworking and simplifying the country's 30-year-old constitution, a document which gives the military broad and potentially oppressive rights over individuals and minority groups, such as the Kurds.
The Hurriyet Daily News reported that Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek wants the new constitution to be written with the wants of the Turkish people at the fore.
The new constitution should reflect all colors, smells, motives, cultures and expectations of the citizens. This is the liability of the four parties and the Parliament, commented Çiçek, who will meet with constitutional experts for up to a few weeks before the actual writing of the constitution begins.
According to the BBC, the first days of discussion have seen unexpected equanimity and concordance between normally antagonistic parties, but some fear that the Justice and Development Party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will not be able to overcome the imposing mentality of being the ruling party, according to the Republican People's Party's Atilla Kart.
The main problem [with] the constitution-making process is the imposing mentality of the ruling party. We can be successful in the new constitution process if we overcome this. We say 'no' to a constitution and democracy to the extent that the prime minister allows. We insist on the constitution that people demand from us, Kart told the Hürriyet Daily News.
The new constitution should reconcile the state and the nation and should associate democracy with the Republic, added Faruk Bal, a commission member from the Nationalist Movement Party.
In an attempt to avoid the problem from the start, the constitutional commission will start with the articles that will be easiest to agree upon. More complicated articles will be left for later, when two delegates from four parties, as well as a number of advisors, will be handed responsibility.
So far, the new constitution seems to have ignited the passion of the Turkish public. Members of the Constitution Conciliation Commission, Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges and other civil organizations have gone on a nationwide tour to discuss the ideas, and the events have drawn thousands of eager attendees.
Additionally, in Istanbul on Monday a thousand local spokespersons of 52 national-level non-governmental organizations met in a sports arena to discuss what they and their constituents -- who make up a one-sixth of Turkey's population -- want to see in a constitution, according to a separate report from Hürriyet.
It is the first time that we the people, not appointed experts, are touching our constitution-to-be with our hands, said Rifat Hisarc?kl?o?lu, the head of Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges, at the meeting.
However, not all are enthusiastic about what a new constitution has in store. Umit Kocasakal, the chairman of the Istanbul Bar Association, said that Turkey has already made itself vulnerable and shouldn't be limiting the powers of the military.
We thought we had an army which is powerful and which will protect us. We now have the Turkish unarmed forces. You are now the Turkish unarmed forces, Kocasakal told politicians at the Judicial Independence and New Constitution conference in Eski?ehir province on Monday.
We left behind the idea of thinking we have a national army the day we entered NATO.
Once the constitution is drafted, it will be put to a vote in parliament. If it is then passed, it will have to be approved by a special referendum, according to the Daily Star. The drafting process is expected to take six months.
The present constitution in Turkey dates back to the September 1980 military coup which witnessed the resumption of military rule in the vast country. The constitution was passed in a referendum in November 1982.