In their previous speeches, the representatives of the judiciary would insistently stress the principle of secularism. Also, they would challenge the “enemies of secularism” with an authoritarian definition and concept of secularism, and they would express their attachment to the secular republic. The Supreme Court of Appeals president’s speech did not emphasize secularism like we are used to seeing. Possibly, other speeches to follow will not include it as well.
Then, have the regime debates ended? No. The regime debates are being waged this time over the principle of the “unitary state.” In a nutshell, we can say: secularism out and unitary state in.
Some may argue that the definitions of the republic and the unitary state mentioned in the opening speech by the Supreme Court of Appeals president are problematic. This is not very important. Gerçeker is not giving an academic lecture but is expressing the stance adopted by the top judiciary. His efforts to reconcile the values of the republic and the unitary state with liberal democracy are refreshing. What we need is to introduce liberal aspects to the never-ending regime debates. These aspects or his intention to do so are clearly visible in Gerçeker’s speech.
If we examine his speech without paying much attention to the concepts he preferred to use, we can see that what he really advocates is not the “unitary state,” but the “nation-state.” If we replace “nation-state” with “unitary state” then the debate is no longer a regime debate. It becomes an issue on which society as a whole will decide together.
Those who imagine “nation” as an ethnic entity will have difficulty in understanding the nation built upon such notions as law, citizenship and common awareness. In order to overcome this difficulty, we need to concentrate on the “nation-state,” which will be adopted by the people as the main actor of liberal democracy instead of focusing on the “unitary state.”