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Turkey’s minorities still skeptical about new constitution

Hürriyet Daily News, 8.11.2011

There are great expectations in the government camp as the process for the preparation of a new constitution is under way, but some members of the minorities voice their concerns about the new charter

Arev Cebeci, a Turkish-Armenian who was a candidate nominee for the CHP, says he doesn’t believe the new constitution will be an egalitarian one. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Representatives of Turkey’s various minority communities have expressed skepticism regarding ongoing efforts to draft a new constitution for the country.

“Considering the current political conditions in Turkey, I do not believe the new constitution will be an egalitarian one that embraces all sections of society,” Arev Cebeci, a Turkish-Armenian who became a candidate nominee for the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the most recent election, recently told the Hürriyet Daily News.

If a new constitution is drafted, then it will be the first time such a text will be produced in a democratic milieu since the establishment of the founding constitution of 1924. Other previous constitutions were written in the wake of military coups in 1961 and 1980.

“The first four articles of the 1980 constitution will be overturned in the new constitution that is underway. This will not be to Turkey’s benefit. Everyone is a Turk according to the laws of the Turkish Republic; that clause ought never to be amended,” Mari Loker-Gormenazano, a Turkish Jew, told the Daily News.

Current political conditions are not suited for making the right decisions about a new constitution, while Turkey should first concentrate on the problem of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), said Loker-Gormenazano, the grandchild of former deputy Adolf Loker, who designed the hats for modern Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

“I want to see Turkey as a society [composed] of citizens of the Turkish Republic, without any regard for race, religion or language,” Loker-Gormenazano said.

Meanwhile, Cebeci also said they would never give up on rights granted to minorities through the Treaty of Lausanne in the event that the new constitution brought fresh problems regarding the status of non-Muslim minorities.

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