Foreign academics discuss new Turkish charter

Turkey’s new charter must be created in a spirit of reconciliation and democracy, according to foreign legal scholars from countries that have all created new constitutions in extraordinary circumstances in the past.

“The new constitution of Turkey should be issued with the highest reconciliation possible, by including all layers of society and all political actors in the process. Such a constitution will come out in consequence of a democratic, transparent, and participatory process, and constitutes the beginning of a new culture of living together in Turkey,” Michael Meier, a Turkish representative of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung institute (FES), told participants at a conference that was held Oct. 15 at Istanbul Bilgi University. “Adding life to the content of the constitution is in the charge of every citizen of Turkey because the new constitution will be a constitution that places the people of Turkey in the center.”

Meier was joined by a number of academics, including Professor Herta Däubler-Gmelin, who is a former German Justice Minister; Professor Carles Viver Pi-Suner of Barcelona University; Albie Sachs, the former member of South Africa’s constitutional court; Professor Miroslaw Wyrzykowski, a former member of Poland’s constitutional court; and Turkish professors Mithat Sancar and Turgut Tarhanlı.

Regarding the mother tongue debates in his country, Sachs said there were now 11 official languages in South Africa.

“Mother tongue in education is encouraged in my country. It is an advantage for the education system,” Sachs said after the conference.

He also said sustainable growth was very important for a constitution as it should address economic rights, housing, education, welfare, food and water.

According to Sachs, women’s issues should be a very strong component of a constitution and should include fundamental rights in a nonsexist way. “Freedom of speech should increase rights both in the public and private sphere,” Sachs said. “The aim is to make a meaningful contribution to the process of issuing a new constitution.”

Meier said speakers were selected in line with these criteria and added that he hoped the conference, the first of its kind, would make a positive contribution to the process of creating a constitution in Turkey.

The conference was organized by Global and Local Thought Association (KUYEREL), Social Democracy Foundation (SODEV), Social Economic Political Researches Foundation of Turkey (TUSES), Istanbul Bilgi University Human Rights Law Application and Research Center, as well as FES. k HDN

Tuesday, October 18, 2011
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News