With the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Republic upcoming, the conversation around a new constitution in Turkey has taken central state. As such, DPI hosted an in-person event entitled ‘Turkey’s Search for a New Constitution’ on the 30th of September in Ankara. This event was DPI’s first of the year 2023 in its ongoing series titled: ‘Constitution Making and Conflict Resolution in Turkey.’ This event brought together legal professionals, academics, policymakers, civil society representatives, journalists, and senior political officials from various political backgrounds. The events keynote speakers were Professor Fazıl Hüsnü Erdem and Professor Sevtap Yokuş, both professors of constitutional law.
During his speech Professor Erdem discussed that although the conversations surrounding the new constitution in Turkey have been heavily politicised, which has doomed past constitutional efforts, policymakers should go beyond this and actively engage in a civic constitutional process. To achieve this, there must be a resumption of conversation between the government and the opposition, including on the Kurdish movement. Professor Erdem discussed how a new constitutional process could include overcoming polarised politics and establishing a dialogue between parties. Professor Yokuş discussed the importance of the ownership of civil society and the opposition in the process to prevent the constitutional process from being instrumentalised. Following these presentations, participants discussed numerous topics. These included the underlying reasons for the push for a new constitution, prior attempts in a new constitution, effective models to the process of constitution-making, opportunities that this process could present in resolving the Kurdish issue, and how discussions around the constitution must consider a range of other pertinent topics, such as the economic crisis and human rights concerns. This timely event provided participants a platform to discuss constitution-making and conflict resolution in Turkey.