A constitution for peace

Instead, though, we have chaos. Journalists continue to be arrested. The crisis with Russia looks likely to deepen. The suspicious-looking death of prominent Kurdish lawyer and voice of peace Tahir Elci shocked everyone. It is in the midst of this dark atmosphere that Turkey now wants to debate a new constitution. We will all watch together as it becomes clear whether this political leadership wants a new constitution in order to bring forth an even more autocratic system, or whether it genuinely wishes to see the dawning of a new and freer era.

The enmity and bloodiness that seems to characterize Turkish politics these days is very damaging. As for the incidents along the border with Syria, they will certainly have an influence on Turkey’s future. In such times the ruling party and opposition would be best advised to put aside their disagreements and work together — but on what sort of foundation?

The framework for a constitution that is derived from shared wisdoms and prudence would provide precisely the kind of democratic platform on which different factions could cooperate. It no longer appears possible that armed struggle is going to get the Kurdish movement anywhere. And it is now clear that, despite all the barriers in the way, both Kurdish and Turkish people have stood up to embrace the kind of peaceful political rhetoric seen in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) party. Despite the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and despite the error-strewn policies put forward by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the past, it appears possible that the HDP might well open the path towards new levels of political and societal peace. In the meantime, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) is giving out signals that, within such an equation, it would be cooperative.

At the same time, the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) looks like its moves are set to mirror those made by the AKP.

In the face of critical regional and global developments, it is vital that day-to-day political calculations and interests are not allowed to place a lien on the future of the country.

And the AKP, which claims it is a government for the entire country, will see great gains if its ruling Cabinet can manage to put aside divisive rhetoric and policies. The top groups and experienced politicians that are a part of the AKP ranks need to work hard now to turn their balcony victory speeches into reality. Unsolved murders, international crises, police raids against the media: None of these serve to support either peace or prosperity in Turkey.

What we need now is a wide-bridging peace coalition. And what everyone expects now of the AKP is that it will lead the formation of such a coalition. Any deepening of the atmosphere of clashes and violence will only serve to completely destroy the already fragile state of societal peace and serenity. A political rhetoric based upon and in recognition of constitutional and democratic standards and limitations will allow everyone to make thoughtful and prudent decisions.

We need to be careful not to allow an atmosphere of violence, similar to what we saw in the 1990s, or a polarizing political rhetoric, to shape our future. The vicious cycles of aggressive rhetoric, interest-motivated ambition, and polarizing rhetoric will only consume domestic energy if they continue. If political parties here really wish to ensure their perpetuity, they now need to embrace the proper instruments to bring about societal compromise. And the creation of a new constitution may well be the best opportunity for this. A constitution that supports more freedom and more democracy is a crucial need for every person and institution in this country. Struggles for power and political authority are in the long term of no real advantage to the country as a whole. We need a more humane constitution, and we need it urgently. When people ask what sort of constitution this should really be, the answer ought to be this: a constitution for peace.