On May 28, a session of the Constitutional Commission for improving the Constitution of Turkmenistan was held in the capital under the chairmanship of President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov.
Reading out the session’s agenda and noting that the Commission started its work last year, the nation’s leader stressed that the present session was assigned to draw together conclusions from the Commission’s first year work on improving the Constitution of Turkmenistan, to sum up the preliminary results and reports, and give consideration to the tasks set in the field.
The Constitutional Commission, continued President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov, has been carrying out the round-the-year work in this area in association with Mejlis of Turkmenistan, the Cabinet of Ministers, relevant ministries and sectoral agencies, ordinary citizens of the country, political parties, public organizations and local authorities. According to the national parliament’s reports, numerous proposals on introducing amendments and additions to the Constitution of Turkmenistan have been received from various institutions and enterprises, organizations and citizens.
The issue was placed on the agenda of crowded meetings of work collectives. In the light of the proposals, which are still coming in, we should give consideration to the Constitution’s trends and provisions which are to be changed, the leader of nation said. In this regard, the floor was given to the members of the Constitutional Commission.
First speaker, Dashoguz velayat khyakim E. Orazgeldiev, has stressed that a relevant comprehensive and well-coordinated work is being accomplished in the country’s velayats on explaining the meaning and objectives of improvement of the Constitution. At the same time, received from all parts of the regions, the proposals are thoroughly examined and then submitted for consideration to the Commission set up at Mejlis of Turkmenistan.
Special consideration was given to the proposals on upgrading the constitutional rights and obligations of local authorities and self-governance, on improving the legislative regulations which govern their relations.
Next speaker, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan K. Babaev has highlighted that the country’s political and public organizations take active part in tackling the tasks assigned to the Constitutional Commission, in particular they organize special meetings on the issues of improving the constitutional provisions and norms, carry out a large-scale explanatory and informative work among the population, including through the mass media. One such is organization of the meetings, round-table discussions at the enterprises and various institutions devoted to the content and significance of improving the Constitution – an official expression of interests of the civil society and a generally-recognized platform of its existence.
As the speaker stressed, a relevant Work Plan with a set of systemic measures had been worked out. In accordance with the Plan, a series of conferences was held on such topics, as the role of legal reforms in the development of state and society, the principles of the civil society development, constitutional guarantees for ensuring human rights and freedoms, the significance of the constitutional reform in the context of Turkmenistan’s political and socio-economic development, and many others.
An impressive body of work has been accomplished on collecting, analyzing and generalizing the proposals on the Constitution improvement received from the activists of public organizations, citizens, specialists of different sectors, experts. The work was carried out in close interaction with Mejlis deputies, representatives of velayat, etrap and city Halk Maslakhaty, khyakimliks, education system and scientific community, political parties and public organizations.
In particular, the proposals submitted touch upon such vital issues as the implementation of the Turkmen state’s scientific-technical policy and international cooperation in this field, further development of the multi-party system and equality of public associations before the law, as well as fixation of constitutional guarantees of freedom of thought and speech.
In his turn, Minister of Adalat B. Muhamedov has informed that in the frames of the work of the Mejlis’ Commission for analyzing the proposals on making amendments and additions to the Constitution of Turkmenistan, representatives of the Ministry of Adalat are carrying out a comparative analysis of basic provisions of different countries’ Constitutions. At the same time, special consideration is given to the issue of harmonizing the national legislation with international legal standards, relating to the system of state government bodies and administration, as well as judicial and prosecution authorities.
As stressed, the proposals made earlier by the President of Turkmenistan on improving the national legislation have received the nationwide support. The talk is about the proposals on introducing to the revised Constitution of the country the provisions related to strengthening the judicial protection of civil and human rights, ensuring the population’s social protection, state support for the family institution, motherhood and childhood, the youth policy, development of the economy and credit and financial system.
Director of the Turkmen National Institute for Democracy and Human Rights under the President of Turkmenistan was the next to report.
Informing about the fulfillment of assignments given by President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov at the first session of the Constitutional Commission, the speaker noted that the staff of the Institute participated actively in the activity of the Working Group set up at Mejlis of the country. In particular, the proposals received from citizens on improving the Constitution had been analyzed, and the relevant work had been performed. At the same time, consideration was given to the issue of establishing the post of Plenipotentiary Representative for Human Rights. In this regard, the issue-related experience of a number of countries has been explored. The articles of the Constitution in force have also been studied with the aim of their improvement in compliance with international legal norms.
Then, the floor was given to Chairperson of Mejlis A. Nurberdyeva.
The leader of the national parliament informed that in the period under review, numerous proposals on making amendments and additions to the Constitution had been received from various institutions and enterprises, organizations and citizens. They were given consideration at labor collective meetings. The proposals continue to come in. Mejlis of Turkmenistan jointly with the Cabinet of Ministers, the military and law enforcement bodies, ministries and sectoral agencies, political parties and public organizations, local authorities studied and analyzed the proposals.
The Chairperson of Mejlis focused attention on a number of articles of the Constitution in force, which require amendments and additions in view of the proposals. In particular, they are the articles concerning extension of powers of the President of Turkmenistan - a guarantor of state independence and legal status of neutrality, territorial integrity of the country, observance of constitutional and international obligations.
On the basis of the proposals, given the present-day requirements of the new historical epoch and advanced world experience, as well as to successfully implement the large-scale long-term programs, it was proposed to include in the draft of the revised Constitution of Turkmenistan (Article 52) a provision for extension of the presidential term of office from five to seven years
Among the priority tasks of reforming the Constitution, the accent was also placed on the necessity of improving its third section, where the constitutional legal fundamentals are fixated of the system of power and management of Turkmenistan; the authorities, rights and duties are specified of the President of Turkmenistan, the Cabinet of Ministers, judicial and local authorities. In this connection, Chairperson of Mejlis presented a proposal of the Working Group on introducing to the Constitution of new articles and a number of amendments and additions to the existing articles. In particular, the talk is about removing the maximum age limit for fulfilling responsibilities of the head of state, and approving the additional rights of the President of Turkmenistan.
After the reports of members of the Constitutional Commission, the President of Turkmenistan made a keynote address to the session participants, having concentrated on the main goals and objectives of the country’s Constitution further improvement.
The reports and proposals show, the nation’s leader stated, our initiatives aimed at reforming the Constitution of Turkmenistan have found nationwide support.
The issue-related work is ongoing with active participation of specialists in various fields, scientists, expert groups, as well as ordinary citizens of the country, the head of state continued. As of now, thousands of proposals have been received from the ministries and sectoral agencies, political parties and public organizations, as well as from velayats. President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov has emphasized that the Working Groups of the Constitutional Commission should keep the work going on the basis of the proposals submitted.
Given the proposals for further strengthening of the legal status of neutrality in the Constitution, as well as to attach particular importance to the UN-mandated historic Resolution, the head of state spoke of the advisability of introducing in the Section 4, Article 1 of the Constitution of Turkmenistan of a new article on the legal status of neutrality of the country.
Having highlighted that the keystone and nationwide-supported principle of Turkmenistan’s state policy based on humanism and justice, the leader of nation has stressed that there are sufficient reasons for applying that practice, unprecedented in the world, in the provisions of Constitution.
With a glance to the information provided by the Working Groups of Mejlis of Turkmenistan, the nation’s leader has spoken in favor of inserting a provision in the first section of the Constitution, specifying that our state promotes scientific-technical progress and maintains international cooperation in this direction, as well as that the state scientific-technical strategy implemented is based on the interests of the society and every citizen.
The leader of nation has also highlighted the advisability of introducing the articles containing new provisions and principles, which reflect the state policy in the field of protection of young people’s rights and freedoms, the historically important work with long-term prospects under way in our country.
As the head of state noted, the ongoing constitutional reforms should take account of the most advanced world experience and the experience accumulated in the context of the national model of development. Speaking of this, the President of Turkmenistan has stated that generally recognized norms of international law should be of top priority in the law-making processes.
The head of state has also stressed that it is wise to introduce the provisions into the Constitution, which state that international agreements of Turkmenistan have direct effect.
The President of Turkmenistan has also welcomed making additions to the Constitution, which clearly formulate that the protection, support and service to the people are a key objective of the bodies of state power. It is also necessary to amend the Constitution in force to fix the principles of supremacy of law and order, to raise public awareness of the meaning and content of the adopted legislative acts, the nation’s leader stressed.
The head of state proposed to reformulate the relevant articles in the section of the Constitution on human and civil rights, freedoms and duties in the context of generally-admitted rules of international law, concerning the protection and prevention of impairment of individual rights, personal security. At the same time, the new articles are to fix the rights for the entrepreneurial activity, private property, and competent legal assistance. If necessary, the proposals should be considered in close connection with other issues, the head of state noted.
The President of Turkmenistan placed accent on the need to clearly state the generally adopted basic standards in the field of human rights and freedoms, to reformulate them, making them more accessible.
It is also necessary, the head of state stressed, to work over the section specifying a constitutional legal basis of the country’s system of government agencies and administration, more precisely - on the key provisions, which are stated in the chapters on the powers, rights and duties of the President of Turkmenistan, Mejlis of Turkmenistan, the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan, judicial and local governance authorities.
The rights, duties and powers of legislative, executive and judicial branches should be clearly defined, the head of state continued. It is important to tackle the tasks assigned to ensure functioning of the three branches of government on the principles of independence, justice, openness, transparency in compliance with the present-day demands, efficiently and flexibly. On the basis of the proposals received, it is proposed to insert new articles in the section, and make a number of amendments and additions to the articles currently in force.
Having highlighted that it was proposed to establish the Constitutional Court of Turkmenistan among the supreme bodies of the government, the nation’s leader assigned the Commission to consider the issue once again before making a final decision. If the proposals to establish the body are approved, the leader of nation said, new relevant articles should be introduced into the Constitution.
As the head of state noted, owing to the reforms carried out in the period under review, Article 58 of the Constitution has been amended. It specifies that in the event the President of Turkmenistan is unable to fulfill his duties by any reason, then in the period prior to the presidential elections, one of the Cabinet Deputies Chairman shall be appointed as ad interim President of Turkmenistan on the basis of the decision taken by the State Security Council.
Having analyzed the citizens’ letters, it was proposed to add the provisions that envisage in the above-mentioned case to devolve the functions of the President upon Chairman of Mejlis of Turkmenistan. Speaking of this, the nation’s leader has emphasized that relying on the generally-admitted international experience, it is necessary to consider the issue of amending those provisions. In this connection, President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov commissioned to give adequate consideration to the relevant proposals to take an optimal decision on the issue, having studied it additionally if necessary.
Focusing on the priorities of the national parliament’s legislative activity, the head of state touched upon the proposals for establishing the Presidium of Mejlis of Turkmenistan to ensure more efficient tackling of the tasks assigned and daily issues at a high level. As the leader of nation said, if necessary, the provisions on establishing the Presidium of Mejlis for better organizing the parliament’s activity and forming its composition may be introduced into the articles governing the legal status of the Mejlis activity.
Having emphasized that in the framework of the steps taken towards upgrading the Constitution, it is necessary to give consideration to the local governance legal status in compliance with international practice, to clearly define a legal framework of financial support for their responsibilities and property, the President of Turkmenistan has pointed out the need to continue the work in this direction. In particular, the head of state referred to the proposals that offer to expand the Gengeshi’ powers.
We make every effort to develop the banking system, sectors of the economy, industry, and to realize the historical initiatives in the other areas, the head of state said. On this basis and with a glance to the incoming numerous proposals, it was proposed to introduce a new section “Economy and Financial-Credit Sector” into the revised Constitution of Turkmenistan.
In this connection, President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov has spoken of the need to include in this section the provisions that the state stimulates and supports business activity, encourages the development of small and medium-sized businesses, legal safety of taxpayers.
It is necessary to clearly formulate the unified budgetary-financial, taxation and monetary policy pursued in the country, to specify the unit of national currency, the financial-credit, budgetary and banking systems, taxes, charges and other compulsory payments, obligations for their settlement, the head of state emphasized. In this context, the nation’s leader has highlighted the advisability of giving a detailed description of the provisions related to some powers of the Central Bank, the country’s national treasures, their rational use and state protection.
It is necessary, the President of Turkmenistan said, to keep the work ongoing on formulating concrete definitions of new articles, other amendments and additions to the Constitution. The proposals should be considered with a glance to international law, experience of different countries, our national peculiarities.
Having proposed to analyze once again the incoming letters on improvement of the Constitution in the light of modern requirements, the head of state highlighted that first, it would be advisable to discuss the proposals at the session of the Elders’ Council of Turkmenistan, and then to publish a preliminary draft of the revised Constitution in the press for the nationwide discussions. The leader of nation proposed to submit a final draft of the Constitution for consideration by Mejlis deputies and adopt it at the next year’s session of the Elders’ Council.
Concluding his speech, President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov assigned the ministries, sectoral agencies and public organizations to maintain close contacts with local authorities, having emphasized that successful continuation of the work would contribute to our sovereign state’s further development, to the prosperous and happy life of the people.
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