Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Oct. 28 declared the “the Century of Turkey vision” one day before the 99th anniversary of Republic Day in the capital Ankara.
In his rule, President Erdoğan and his party Justice and Development Party (AKP) pointed out several symbolic years, like 2023, 2053, 2071, claiming that they will build a better Turkey through and after those anniversaries. 2023, for example, marks the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey. Erdoğan claims that this century, especially after 2023, will be “the Century of Turkey” in the world. 2053 marks the 600th anniversary of the capture of Byzantine Empire’s capital Constantinople, now known as Istanbul, by the Ottoman Empire
The upcoming elections are also planned to be held in June 2023, which increases its importance both for the ruling and opposition parties. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which was the founding party of the Republic 99 years ago, wants to end AKP’s 20-year rule in 2023.
Erdoğan said “Until the election date, of course, we will have new projects that we will share with our nation. Today, I just want to tell you the spirit, philosophy and essence of our Century of Turkey vision,” during the event that was held in Ankara Sports Hall.
Preparation for a new constitution
During his speech, Erdoğan signaled that they will prepare a new constitution instead of the Constitution of 1982 which was prepared by the military regime. However, the constitution was amended 19 times since 1982. Three referendums for the constitutional amendments were held in 2007, 2010, 2017 under the ruling AKP, paving the way for the presidential regime of today. 2017 referendum created a much more centralized hyper-presidential system.
“We are trying to save our country from the shame of the coup constitution and have a completely new, civil, democratic and libertarian constitution. The fact that we have pioneered many constitutional amendments during our governments does not prevent us from seeing and lamenting the ongoing deficiency in this matter,” Erdoğan said.
“Bringing a new constitution as a product of the national will, is one of the first goals of our Century of Turkey vision. We are determined to implement it with the approval of our parliament and the approval of our nation. It is the most fundamental right of our nation, which has paid the price of protecting its homeland for a thousand years, its Republic for a century, its democracy for 80 years, and its independence on July 15 (because of the failed coup attempt), to have such a constitution,” Erdoğan further said.
Amendment on the right to wear headscarf and family issues
Erdoğan also expressed that the ruling AKP will propose a constitutional amendment on the right to wear headscarf to the parliament following week.
“We have prepared a constitutional amendment proposal that will ensure the education and employment rights of all our girls and sisters who wear and don’t wear headscarf, as well as to protect our family institution from the threat of perverted movements,” Erdoğan said.
President Erdoğan on Oct. 5 called for a constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to wear headscarf for women, after the CHP on Oct. 4 submitted a draft law with regards to the issue.
Erdoğan later said that the constiutional amendment in question will also include the protection of family which according to him "consists of the union of man and woman."
"The concept of family is indispensable for us. Because a strong nation comes from a strong family. Lately they have introduced LGBT into society, trying to degenerate our family structure," Erdoğan further said on Oct. 7.
CHP's move came amid allegations that the CHP would reban headscarf if it won the general elections scheduled to take place in June 2023.
The issue of the headscarf ban held an important place in public and political debates in Turkey in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lifted the headscarf ban for students in universities in 2010 and for public employees in 2013.
Erdoğan also said during the "Century of Turkey" event that the Kanal Istanbul project maintains its place among their goals as one of their promises in their vision.
“The Muslim who is excluded because of their faith... The Kurd who is discriminated against because of their language... The Alevi who is oppressed because of their identity... The Christian and Jewish sons of these lands who are exposed to injustice... In short, we stand by everyone who is persecuted by the tutelage in this country, we support their struggle,” Erdoğan also added.
“We want to make the 100th anniversary of our Republic the turning point of a new era that will change politics in Turkey with its style, functioning and results. Every contribution to the Century of Turkey is very valuable to us. Let's talk about the Century of Turkey until Oct. 29, 2023, let's discuss and put forward our proposals. Let's create the vision of the Century of Turkey together, let's build it together. Let's establish an understanding of social justice on the basis of full equality of opportunity and equity in the Century of Turkey,” Erdoğan lastly said.
Then Erdoğan and his far-right nationalist allies Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli and Great Unity Party (BBP) leader Mustafa Destici took the stage together and greeted the audience.
On the other hand, the audience was not allowed to leave the building before President Erdoğan finished his speech, Serkan Alan from Gazete Duvar reported.