Referring to the constitution, Prime Minister Erdoğan stated; “I dream of a comprehensible text in which fundamental rights and freedoms are assured.” He also explains that his second desire is for the constitution to be drafted by an Assembly panel that will provide widespread participation.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan states; "The new constitution will be drafted by a wide public segment and not solely constitution experts. The public will no longer need an interpreter to understand the constitution."
Speaking to journalists from his hotel prior to his departure from Qatar, Erdoğan expressed his dream for the new constitution as being, "an understandable text in which fundamental freedoms and rights are secured." He also went on to express that his other desire was for an Assembly panel to allow for the widest possible participation to be involved in drafting the constitution. Erdoğan went on to state: "On September 12th we called for 'advanced democracy and freedoms'. We now need to be more comprehensive in our handling of the constitution. This constitution will not be drafted by constitution experts but by many widespread segments of the public. Civil society organizations, women's organizations, unions, economists and social scientists will be the ones to determine the next constitution. We will request the widest possible participation from the public and at the final stage will benefit from constitutionalists from a technical perspective. An interpreter will not be necessary in order to understand the constitution. We are hoping to establish this parliamentary panel after the elections.
At the moment, we have begun working with non-governmental organizations. We are very proud of this and promote such work. I dream of a comprehensible text geared towards concise but substantial advanced democracy, which secures fundamental rights and freedoms. We have already taken many steps in terms of women's rights; however this constitution will secure women's rights. The family structure will also be preserved. There is already protection for the family structure in the current constitution; however we want it to be more concrete preservation. There are those who want to break apart our family structure."
Prime Minister Erdoğan went on to answer a number of other questions regarding current issues on the agenda.
• Will general elections be held in May?
"We have no such plans. We are planning to hold elections in June. Our comrades are working on the issue and we will decide at the end of February or at the start of May."
• Did you use the term 'freak' in reference to the controversial monument in Kars, or to the surrounding shanty town?
"We don't need to go back and forth on this. I used the term to describe the statue. Those who made assessments of what happened there and went on television have neither seen the statue nor the location. I speak with the background of being a Municipal Mayor; there are historical artifacts present where the statue is located. I am not at all concerned with the subject matter of the monument. I happen to know, more or less, what a monument is. One doesn't need to be a graduate in fine arts to appreciate a statue. When a song is played and someone asks a passerby if they like it, they don't ask, 'are you a music school graduate?' Why is it that friend (the former AK Party Kars Municipal Mayor) was not reselected as a candidate?
Because that friend did not have the qualifications we were looking for. He was not selected as a candidate because he did not fit in with our concept of conservative democracy. We began cleaning up the area where the monument is situated as soon as we came into power.
With expropriations, we brought forth the Seyyit Hassan el Harkani Mosque. The dome of the mosque and the hill where the monument is situated are practically the same height. Then there is a 48-meter high statue. We can't allow for construction that will overshadow a historical artifact. I warned the municipal mayor about the monument when it was first being built. In addition, the Natural & Cultural Heritage Preservation Agency also ruled on taking down the monument. The municipal mayor, in turn, was responsible for tearing down the statue. What is being discussed today has nothing to do with history or fine arts. They are trying to give us a lesson in art. However, back when I was a municipal mayor, 106 historical graves and tombstones were removed from Karacaahmet. I showed 46 different locations where a Cemevi could be built. They responded by saying, 'You can bury us, but you can't stop us.' We used dozers to tear down the construction. The Prime Minister at the time called the Governor of Istanbul and had it stopped. Thank goodness we had taken photographs. Later, when I was imprisoned, they filed a case against me for 'tearing down historical artifacts.' My attorney added the photographs to the case file and I was exonerated."
• The foreign press is making references to the 'Taliban' in discussion of the monument being brought down, what do you think?
"There is no point in deviating from the objective. I served as the Mayor of Istanbul for four and a half years and have been the Prime Minister for seven and a half years. I have never taken down a statue or any artifact. I would never attempt to demolish a work of art if it was acceptable by law. However, nobody should try to make comparisons. Furthermore, they say it themselves. There are thousands of Atatürk statues. However there are only five, at most ten that have artistic value... Meanwhile, the Kars public expects service. They want an infrastructure and superstructure. One million, two-hundred thousand was spent on that sculpture. The public did not reelect him as mayor. I agree with my public's volition and disposition. And this is what the public expects."
• This year, university students are effectively allowed to wear headscarves. However, what will happen if headscarf-wearing graduates want to become academics or work for the public sector?
"If we are taking about 'progressive democracy and freedom' then we need to deal with this issue. If it is a right granted by the West, then we also need to have these rights. This is allowed in the United States, it's allowed in Japan, in Europe, but not in Turkey. They say it's because there are 'intrinsic conditions'. However this is a coercive excuse, it is not an honest and sincere defense. Now, the right to independently apply to the Constitutional Court is coming. However, the Constitutional Court put up an obstacle despite legality. Independent applications will also be the start to a new era. This struggle for rights will come to an end at some point."
• Do you expect tension to rise regarding the Kurdish issue as the elections approach?
"This issue is literally becoming taboo. The issue of Kurdish citizens is something else and the Kurdish issue is something different. The AKP has exhibited interest in this issue in a way that has never before been seen in the republic. Steps were taken that no one dared to take. Our citizens stated, 'lift the emergency state, that's all we want,' and so we did so. We opened up courses in their native language. We lifted the prohibition of speaking Kurdish in prison. We founded TRT Şeş, a television station which broadcasts 24 hours in Kurdish. With TRT Avaz, we opened up to the Turkish world. We made 20 billion dollar investments in the East and Southeast. These are never before seen initiatives. Our brothers of Kurdish origin are making their own assessments on all we have done. But our Abkhaz and Roman brothers also have problems. We are also trying to reach a solution for them as well. Laz, Circassian, Kurds, it's all cultural prosperity. This unity is being a citizen of the Turkish Republic."
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