Turkish PM Davutoğlu signals new constitutional amendments ahead

Turkey’s 62nd government will focus on amending the Constitution and speeding up the settlement process that aims to solve Turkey’s decades-old Kurdish problem, newly appointed Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced on Monday.

Taking the floor in Parliament to announce the newly formed government’s agenda, Davutoğlu’s speech stated that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government has struggled against all kinds of tutelage over politics and society.

Davutoğlu said the current constitution has failed to satisfy contemporary Turkey’s needs, elaborating: “The current constitution is not appropriate for the Turkish people’s further demands, ideals or aims for a better future. The old kinds of political ideals and governing methods do not accord with the new Turkey.”

Signaling that the government will pursue the drawing up of a new constitution, Davutoğlu went on to say: “The current constitution falls short of reflecting the means of democratic checks and balances. It was built on the basis of controlling the national will through certain types of tutelage. Its strict centrist structure obstructs participation in democratic processes. We believe the constitution should be replaced with a new one.”

In terms of the content and structure of the planned constitution, Davutoğlu said it should focus on satisfying peoples’ demands through greater democracy and welfare, adding, “A civilian, more liberal and more pluralist constitution should not remain a promise to the Turkish people anymore.”

Describing the efforts to bring an end to the country’s Kurdish problem through the ongoing settlement process between the government and terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan as very valuable, Davutoğlu continued: “This problem has held our society captive for decades. Seeking temporary solutions to the problem exacerbated it, threatening our unity. As the government, we will continue to back the settlement process in a stronger manner and coordinate the relevant institutions with each other for effective cooperation on the issue in order to reach a solution. We are ready to put the new methods required in place and to encourage broad segments of society to take part in the process to find an urgent solution to the problem. The AK Party government, since it came to power [in 2002], has put the most comprehensive plan into practice in terms of change, normalization and democratic change through amendments in education, public investment and subsidies and embraced this as state policy.”

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About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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