Is Europeanization in Turkey alive and kicking? The mobilization of European human rights discourse in the constitution-writing
by Zeynep Yanasmayan PhD (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin);
The adoption of new constitutions in the former communist Eastern and Central European states and more recently in the Arab world gave rise to a resurgence of the field of constitution-writing. This paper aims to bring into focus the recent failed attempt at constitution-making (2011-2013) in Turkey as a case study for uncovering the impact of Europeanization agenda on domestic political actors’ discourses concerning the governance of religious diversity. The Turkish case offers a unique combination for the study of constitution-making in ‘deeply divided’ societies not only due its complex internal diversity that calls for complex domestic strategies but also due to its close association with the European instruments that renders it open to external influences.
Specifically, this paper scrutinizes the political debates surrounding the clause on the freedom of religion through the proceedings of the constituent committee sessions. This area reflects the ossified problems in the governance of religious diversity in Turkey, which also attracted wide media attention during the constitution-writing process, partly playing a role in its deadlock. At the flip side of the coin, new constitution-writing moments can break from path-dependency and enable change. Therefore by studying the influence of the European instruments, namely the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU conditionality, on the discourses of the political actors drafting the new Turkish constitution this paper assesses just how ‘grounded’ it is to conceive of this process as a step towards Europeanization.