Syriac deputy: New constitution should avoid any ethnic reference

syriac-deputy.jpgA lawyer representing the Syriac Christian community of Turkey Erol Dora, who on Sunday became the first Syriac to enter Parliament, commented on plans to adopt a new constitution, saying the new document should not contain any reference to ethnicity.

Dora ran in the elections as an independent candidate, but was backed by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). He secured the support of over 52,000 votes in Mardin, which is home to Turkey’s largest Syriac community. Dora told an NTV broadcaster that voters supported him because they wanted a Syriac deputy in Parliament. “There are people with differing opinions and ideologies in Turkey. After I decided to run in the elections, people welcomed it, mostly in places home to the Syriac community,” he stated.

While noting that a constitution made by a single party would be lacking in many areas, Dora said his party asks for a constitution that does not highlight ethnicity and embraces all of Turkey, adding that with the new constitution, the principal of voluntary citizenship must be established instead of compulsory citizenship.

“Taking the divides between the communities into consideration, we must work together to solve our problems on the basis of voluntary unity and with a new policy of embracing all citizens,” Dora said and added that his party expects both the government and opposition parties to effectively address the country’s problems, including the Kurdish problem and education in one’s mother language.

Dora thinks changing the definition of citizenship in the constitution is essential. “We want a definition of citizenship that does not highlight ethnic identity and where all citizens feel they belong,” he said, adding, “Let us build a peace that includes all 74 million in Turkey and live together.”

Dora noted that the topics the BDP will focus on will be determined after discussions and negotiations within the party, while their primary aim is to bring solutions to problems in Turkey through peaceful means, including dialogue, and according to the will of Turkey’s people. “Our struggle will be realizing the rule of law in Turkey on the basis of democracy,” Dora said.