Turkey votes 'yes' for a more democratic constitution

Published 18.04.2017 01:23

On Sunday, the Turkish electorate cast ballots and approved the country's new Constitution with a 51.4 percent vote. As in Britain's Brexit decision, it was solely the people's choice that determined the result.

As a result, the constitutions that were drafted by the junta regimes in 1960 and 1980 were eliminated. The anti-democratic current Constitution of Turkey that was imposed by the military junta of the 1980 putsch has been replaced with one selected by popular vote for the first time.

April 16 marked a turning point in the Republic's history. Turkish people decided their own future with a referendum that resulted in a remarkably high participation rate. Around 25 million people voted "yes" for the new Constitution. For the first time in the Republic's history, the military tutelage in the country has been completely discarded. Having suffered from military tutelage for decades, civil politics has finally overcome all of the straining factors. All these developments have set a perfect example for democracy to the world.

However, the responses from the EU, which claims to be the stronghold of democracy, are very interesting. Some claiming to speak on behalf of the EU are unapologetically mourning the loss of the country's military tutelage. A few years back, during my visit to Cyprus, I heard the advisers of an EU prime minister talk about Turkey. I was shocked when I heard them say: "[Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan is a major problem for us. If only the military were still in power in Turkey." This approach, scandalous for democracy, has widely been expressed across Europe recently, as I listen astounded and apprehensive.

European Parliament's Turkey rapporteur and Dutch deputy Kati Piri issued a statement on Sunday that was very problematic in terms of EU's values. In her statement, Piri conveyed a threatening tone with regard to the democratic referendum in Turkey, a very disrespectful stance toward the 25 million people who voted "yes." In 2014, the Netherlands' participation rate in European Parliament elections was 37 percent, while the general participation rate across the EU was 43 percent. So, Piri is the last person to discuss the legitimacy of voting rates. How could it be possible to take her words seriously when she is making snap judgments on behalf of Europe, which has a 37 percent participation rate?

Mirroring Kati Piri, some politicians and media outlets based in EU countries kicked off an operation to manipulate opinions following the referendum. Baseless rumors suggesting that the count was fraudulent started to circulate. Captions such as "the ballots must be recounted" were written.

In the end, all their efforts are useless. Turkey has made its choice. Thanks to the new Constitution, the country will become more social, democratic and strong. In fact, I think that is their real concern.

If Piri and others really wished to see a democratic Turkey, they would have supported the new Constitution and applauded the results of the referendum. However, they do not seem to have such a wish. Now the only thing they seem capable of is threatening or casting aspersions. Turkey will not be deterred by threats. The things done before the referendum and the Turkish electorate's choice are evident. Standing up against the threats, the Turkish electorate said "yes" more vocally in the face of the deterrents. The ones trying to affect the referendum with anti-democratic methods in some EU countries and Switzerland have learned a lesson.

Those endeavoring to change the dynamics of Turkey by supporting and abetting the outlawed PKK and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) have lost to democracy.

Now, the statements issued in Brussels or any other EU capital do not interest Turkey at all. Nothing has changed in Turkey's EU agenda. Turkey has not diverted from its EU membership strategy. If some groups in the EU do not side with Turkey's EU membership only because it is a Muslim country, they must explicitly articulate it. Those who do not wish to see a democratic Muslim country in the EU should not expect Turkey to give up its EU membership efforts.

Turkey is a European country. The European continent is not a monopoly of the EU. No one can marginalize Turkey in this respect. The ones wishing to exclude Turkey merely because it is a Muslim country would only seal the argument that the EU is a league of Christians, which would certainly undermine the EU's position across the globe.

For this reason, the remarks of some European Parliament members and EU spokespersons in regard to Turkey's EU membership are only absurd. Turkey and the EU are interdependent entities. As Turkey develops relations with other countries, including the U.S., England, Russia and China, the ones threatening Turkey had better see the fact that they are stuck in the old world and have failed to keep pace in the new world order.

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