According to plan of the draft authors the rule on the special role of the army will be withdrawn from the new act, restrictions of civil liberties shall disappear and minority rights will be announced.
Today the process of preparing a new constitution points at an expected roll of the political regime in that country towards centralization of power and its islamization. The ruling Justice and Development Party of the current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan repeatedly stated its plans to transform the parliamentary state rule into the presidential, which is associated with preparation of the Turkish Prime Minister to run for president and, consequently, the need to expand his constitutional powers at the post.
Tasks of such transformations lie within the geopolitical and foreign policy area: and this is strengthening of Turkey in the region as, first of all, leader of the Islamic world. Since Ankara does not belong to Arab world, the potential of its leadership in the region was reduced by authoritarian leaders in North Africa and the Middle East. The fall of regimes in Egypt and Libya, as well as undermining of the Syrian regime has sharpened political competition within the region and the conflict between the ‘Islamic ridge’ represented by Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar. As a result, Ankara has gained a chance to strengthen its positions in the Mediterranean region and to gain a foothold in the Islamic countries of North Africa and the Sahel. In this very context it is necessary to consider aggravation of relations between Ankara and Tel Aviv, establishing of TV channel At Turkiyya as an alternative to the Qatari Al-Jazeera. However, such leadership requires from Erdogan strengthening of Turkey islamization and concentrating big powers in his hands.
Since 1982 Turkish army is the guarantor of the secular nature of the state. Since that time army effectively blocked any governmental initiatives relating to islamization. In particular, this institution has stopped the initiative of the Erdogan’s party to introduce hijab in universities of the country. The Arab Spring has triggered the thesis that Ankara could become a new model of public and political development. However, the attempt to integrate Islam into the political order in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia requires from Turkey trends in the legislative and political initiatives at least similar those mentioned.
Preparations to level the role of the army were taking place in the country during the last 3 years. They included also sanctions imposed on the army leaders after the disclosure of the The Hammer plan, transfer of affairs of national importance under the general civil court jurisdiction, as well as amending The Political Instrument of National Security, also known as the Red Book. This document provides the military with the possibility to use force without consent of the civil authorities in case there is extremely tense socio-political situation in the country that threatens the existence of the republic. The idea of transforming Turkey into a presidential republic could be regarded this way by the army leadership. The campaign aiming at discredit the army has led to the collapse of trust in the institution of 33.7% of citizens in 2010 only. By the end of the first quarter of 2012 the army is weakened even more to oppose the government and present organized opposition to its initiatives.
Thus, it is obvious that the constitutional reform after the its preparation will not meet the internal resistance neither among the population nor among the army elite, except for the democratization norms in relation to the Kurdish minority, which are not supported by majority of the population.
The Kurdish issue is an important bargain issue of Erdogan’s government in almost all foreign directions. The EU makes further European integration of Ankara dependent on its decision. Constitutional initiatives in respect of the Kurdish minority have found strong support represented by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani who is an ethnic Kurd which in such way has supported the whole ruling party of Turkey. In addition, such initiative could compensate the decline of Erdogan’s rating in the country by voices of ethnic Kurds during general presidential election, which, obviously, will be held in accordance with new rules.
It is possible that the decision on the Kurdish issue may appear to be not so decisive and, at the final stage of reviewing the draft new Constitution, these controversial views will be removed from the general draft at all.
Thus, new constitution should strengthen powers of Turkish President and create conditions for electing current Prime Minister Erdogan to the post. Liberalization of policy in the area of civil rights and liberties, as well as the removal of guarantees relating to preservation of the secular regime will allow for a roll towards islamization of Turkey. All this shall be reflected in the increasing Turkish influence within the region having created a kind of ‘Islamic Gateway to Europe’, however, putting an end to the era of Ataturk.