The recent remarks of Prime Minister and presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and EU Minister, Chief Negotiator Mevlut Çavuşoğlu have hinted that debate on the new constitution will be back on Turkey's agenda after the presidential election. Turkish officials also hinted that the new constitution will be in line with the Venice Commission.
The parliamentary commission responsible for preparing the new constitution for Turkey has not been able to reach a substantive agreement on any of the major contested issues and the commission's failure has ended hopes of a new constitution. However, Prime Minister Erdoğan has recently signaled that he would support the new initiatives for a new constitution if he is elected president. "A new constitution for a new Turkey will be one of our priorities... A new constitution means a new future," Erdoğan said at a public rally last month in Istanbul. Morerecently Erdoğan also said that the new constitution will be in line with the values of the Venice Commission. Regarding the question whether he will ask for the Venice Commission's support for the constitution-making process, Erdoğan said that they would seek the commission's support. "If I am elected as president I would support all the initiatives for the new constitution," Erdoğan also added.
Prior to Erdoğan's statement, EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also shared the same thoughts. "The process of making a new constitution is restarting with renewed determination. There is a new Turkey and the new constitution is our priority in this new era." Çavuşoğlu said to a group of journalists after he held talks with Italy's state secretary for EU affairs Sandro Gozi in Rome on July 24.
Stressing the need for a new civilian constitution, Çavuşoğlu also said the current constitution poses the biggest obstacle to further boosting Turkey's democratic standards. The Venice Commission, which is the Council of Europe's advisory body on constitutional matters, also expressed that they are ready to support Turkey's new constitution making process. The President of Venice Commission Gianni Buquicchio stated that they are ready to provide support if Turkey decides to make a new constitution after the presidential election.
According to Constitutional law expert Assoc. Prof. Vahap Coşkun from Dicle University debate on the new constitution will be become much apparent after the presidential elections. "It is widely accepted that Turkey needs a new constitution. This need will be become much more apparent after the presidential elections because Erdoğan promised a new constitution in their vision document to the public," Coşkun said.
Vahap Coskun believes that the Venice Commission's contribution to the new constitution-making process would produce two important results. "First, new constitutions would be highly compatible with democracy and human rights standards because the Venice Commission's criteria will be used for the constitution-writing process. Secondly, cooperation with the Venice Commission will both increase the reputation of the new constitution in the international arena and diminish the criticism from the opposition to a minimum, seeing as the opposition based their argument on the Venice Commission's criterias," the expert added.
The European Commission for Democracy through Law, better known as the Venice Commission, is the Council of Europe's advisory body on constitutional matters. Established in 1990, the commission has played a leading role in the adoption of constitutions that conform to the standards of Europe's constitutional heritage. Initially conceived as a tool for emergency constitutional engineering, the commission has become an internationally recognised independent legal think-tank. It contributes to the dissemination of the European constitutional heritage, based on the continent's fundamental legal values while continuing to provide "constitutional first-aid" to individual states. The Venice Commission also plays a unique and unrivalled role in crisis management and conflict prevention through constitution building and advice.
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