Nowadays it is being discussed more loudly that a healthy process of Turkey’s democratization can proceed only through a new constitution. Along with the discussions carried on in recent years within the triangle of judiciary-politics-military, it has been outwardly expressed in many platforms including non-governmental organizations that we have a serious constitutional problem; that we cannot attain a state of law without a liberal constitution, that a real democratization cannot be reached with constitutions which are the products of extraordinary states such as military coups that protect and defend a specific group, a denomination, a status quo or an ideology; and that therefore a new constitution is necessary. In order to complete well the process of writing “A New Constitution” certain questions have to be answered under the light of these discussions.
Does the process of making a new constitution started with labels like “a civil constitution”, “a liberal constitution” or “a new constitution” possess the qualities of carrying the Turkish modernization to an ultimate point within the framework of universal law norms? Is ıt going to be possible to overcome during this process the problems of the constitution’s favoring the state against its individuals and of mostly victimizing our deeply rooted historical tradition of making constitution to the totalitarian and statist understanding? Also is it going to be possible to realize a constitution concentrating on human rights and freedoms; befitting to modern societies; and embracing the principles of a free democracy? We really wonder how these questions underlying the recent
discussions on constitution will be answered during the constitutional studies.
It is commonly accepted by everyone that for a country to achieve a modern democracy it must possess a constitution abiding the tradition of a constitutional ruling as well as being respectful to and protecting the basic human rights and freedoms. No answer has been found yet to questions: How are we going to prevent the attempts of authoritarian bodies to interpret and practice the constitutional texts according to their understanding in limiting the basic rights and freedoms and get rid of the ideological approaches in the present constitution and make it favorable for freedoms? Another basic question related to this context is how the evolutionary social engineering approaches and the reformist mind taking place in the past and present constitutions can be changed.
The outcome of certain fundamental matters such as Kurdish problem, education in mother language, minority rights, individual rights and freedoms, freedom of religion and conscience, the existence of unchangeable articles (irrevocable provisions) in the constitution must be argued during the discussions concerning the new constitution. Besides that as outlined by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, the possibility of a constitution, which is centered on truth, accepting equality in front of law, guaranteeing basic rights and freedoms, based on real justice and meritocracy and pointing out realities rather than norms should be investigated.
Our journal, Köprü, which dealt with this topic under the title, “Searches for a Democratic Constitution” in the volume 105, opens it to discussion once again. As a contribution to the studies of and searches for a liberal constitution we chose this topic as the subject matter of the volume 120. We analyzed the topic within the framework of the following concepts and questions.
Concepts: constitution, a civil constitution, freedom, law, justice, irrevocable provisions, reforms, state, politics, army, judiciary, society, social contract, societal consensus, non-governmental organizations.
Questions: What is a constitution? What characteristics should exist in a modern constitution? What are the main problems of the present constitution and the constitutional law? What is a civil constitution? What are the characteristics expected of a civil constitution? How can the studies for the new constitution be considered in this context? How can we evaluate the constitutional tradition formed in Turkey since the proclamation of the Basic Law, “Kanun-i Esasi”, and the fractures and deviations in this tradition? How can we evaluate from the viewpoints of human rights and democracy, the understanding of “the state of law” in the present constitution and the practices set forth within this understanding? What are the goals and the level set to be achieved for a new constitution in comparison to the Constitution of European Union? How can the existence of “irrevocable provisions” in the present constitution be reconciled with the principle “Sovereignty is vested fully and unconditionally in the nation”? How should be the contributions of social, cultural and religious groups to the making of a new constitution? What should
be the place of Bediüzzaman Said Nursi’s outlook on concepts like rights, law, justice, etc., in a new constitution?
Additionally we will publish in this journal the proceedings of the workshop, “A Liberal Constitution”, organized jointly by Risale-I Nur Institute and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Waqf University.
We believe that this issue of Köprü will contribute to searches for a democratic, liberal and civil constitution and consider it as a manifestation of Turkey’s endeavors to become a state of law. As we wish our readers to enjoy reading our journal, we hope to address you in the next issue with a file on “The Explanation of Risale-i Nur”