Experts have different opinions on Turkey's future after referendum

Experts have different opinions on Turkey's future after referendum

Azerbaijan, Baku, September 24 / Trend U. Sadikhova /

The referendum on amending the constitution held two weeks ago in Turkey will play a decisive role in determining the future political course of the country. If a majority of experts estimate the referendum as a positive step, some of them consider this as a threat to Turkey's transformation into a religious state.

"The referendum may be a dress rehearsal for the parliamentary elections next year: It will lend momentum to Erdogan's attempt to entrench his leadership while moving Turkey away from Ataturk's vision of secularism and modernization," the Heritage Foundations leading expert on Eurasia, Russia, Ariel Cohen, wrote in his article.

The referendum was, as Berhan Simsek of the opposition CHP party said, "a poisonous pill coated with chocolate"-a reference to the manner in which the dangerous changes in the judicial system were wrapped with innocuous amendments, he said.

However, the Director of Research and Development at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA) Theodore Karasik has another opinion.

"When it comes to the internal political situation, the government stubbornly moves forward in the direction which it thinks useful. That is why the Justice and Development Party is gathering its strength," - said to Trend Karasik, Director of Research and Development of Military Analysis Institute for Near East and Gulf (INEGMA), Karasik said.

A package of amendments, which includes 26 articles of the Turkish Constitution of 1982 and approved by 58 percent of the voters, provides for the reform of the justice system, in particular the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors, as well as institute legal proceedings against the military by civilian courts, the transfer of authority for the dissolution of political parties from the Court of Appeal to the Parliament. Moreover, the country will set up an institute of ombudsman. The possibility of a military elite to intervene in the civil and political matters greatly reduced.

However, these actions were taken to weakene separation of powers and checks and balances, and further defanged the army-the two traditional pillars of secularism ever since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded modern Turkey in 1923.

The Turkish army had the right to overthrow the country's government until the referendum, if it assumed that the secular values of Mustafa Kemal were under threat, as a coup in 1980. Afterwards, the current Constitution was adopted.

"For example, four of the amendments increase the number of Supreme Court judges and place their selection in the hands of the parliamentary majority-currently, the AKP. Another article would expand the membership of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors from 12 to 22, with the government and president playing a greater role in their appointments.

As a result, the Prime Minister brought his long-time foe, the judiciary, under his party's political control," Cohen said.

The courts have repeatedly tried to remove Erdogan's Justice and Development party from the power, suspecting it of the radical religious ideas. The Turkish Constitutional Court almost banned the activity of the party in 2008, which heads the government for eight years.
"By concentrating power in the hands of the AKP's top leadership-Prime Minister Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul-the AKP has damaged the innate balance of Turkish democracy. Turkey is now on a trajectory to become a one-party, Islamist state," Cohen said.

Turkish MP from the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (NMP) Shenol Bal believes that the consequences of the referendum could be even worse than turning into a religious state. "The referendum is a step towards dictatorship. In order to amend the constitution after the elections in 2011, the ruling party resorted to the referendum. The package of constitutional amendments was approved via false propaganda and a long political game," Bal told Trend in a telephone conversation.
She said this referendum is backed by the U.S., which welcomed its outcomes, because in case of change of the constitution, something can happen in Turkey. "

"The government destroys the old values. Through the referendum, they were able to take control over the General Staff and the Constitutional Court," said the MP.

However, member of Trend Expert Council Karasik believes the state is going to use military in what it is intended to do oppose having be a potential force that irrupts and crushes the state.

"They are doing this referendum killing any possibility of the military coup because of the history of coups. There is strategic interest in what the military can be applied," said Karasik.

According to Karasik, the trappings of Islamic appearance are on purpose clearly because that is the part of historical legacy. "The idea that Turkey's destiny to return to the greatness that it was learning from the mistakes from the past, how the economy is preceding, they are able to do more things in much more active way," said the analyst.

Turkish MP from the ruling Justice and Development Party Abdurrahman Kurt believes that the idea of possible Islamisation of Turkey after the referendum is mainly spread by Islamophobia, which is afraid of strengthening of the Muslim states.

"After AKP came to power, the number of believers in the country has grown, and therefore, many believed that Turkey is becoming a religious state. But on the contrary, Turkey got closer to Europe and its democratic values," Kurt told Trend in a telephone conversation.

The process of changing the articles of the Constitution is a requirement for Turkey in accession to the European Union, talks about which have been continuing for several years, said the MP.

"If the society is religious, this does not mean that the country is not democratic. Constitutional referendum is an important step towards the democratization of Turkey for EU accession," said Kurt.
Speaking about the future of the military in Turkey after the referendum, Kurt noted that the Turkish government wants the army to do what it should do, as it happens in European countries and the USA.
"Europe expects from Turkey a lot of progress in democracy, the formation of which is still ongoing. We do not copy the EU and the U.S., but we take the best for the development of freedom of expression and minority rights," he added.

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