BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: World: Europe  
News Front Page
World
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent
-------------
Letter From America
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Saturday, 3 August, 2002, 06:28 GMT 07:28 UK
Turkey passes key reform package
Nationalist Action Party deputies voting
Nationalists tried to block the vote - without success
The Turkish parliament has formally approved a package of key democratic reforms, designed to improve the country's chances of European Union membership.

The death penalty wil be abolished, the ban on education and broadcasts in Kurdish lifted.

Bulent Ecevit
Ecevit: Hopes to open EU door

Final parliamentary confirmation came after a marathon all-night session, and now only requires the formality of presidential approval to become law.

Nationalist deputies strongly opposed the moves, seeing them as a concession to Kurdish rebels and their 15-year campaign for autonomy in the south-east of the country.

"We are happy that the death penalty is being lifted in Turkey," embattled Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said after the vote. "It is important that the EU's door opens up for Turkey."

Kurdish reform

The death penalty will be replaced by life imprisonment without parole, although it will remain on the statute books in wartime.

The change will save the life of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Abdullah Ocalan
Ocalan will escape the death penalty
The largest group in parliament, the Nationalist Action Party, made Ocalan's execution the centre of its 1999 election campaign.

No executions have been carried out since 1984, although dozens of people are on death row.

Members of the party told parliament that the families of those killed by the rebel Kurdish PKK were watching the debate.
Turkey's reform package
end the death penalty
allow Kurdish broadcasts and education
end penalties for criticism of state institutions
ease restrictions on public demonstrations
ease restrictions for foreign organisations working in the country
toughen measures against illegal immigration
greater freedom for non-Muslim minoriy religions

But such arguments failed to deter deputies from abolishing the death penalty by a large majority - a move which set the mood for further votes.

Early on Saturday, parliament legalised Kurdish radio and television broadcasts - one of the most controversial elements of the reform package , which ends years of severe state restrictions.

The country's estimated 12 million Kurds will also be allowed to have private Kurdish-language education.

The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Istanbul says that to its supporters, the death penalty has been a sign of Turkey's resolve against terrorism, and to its opponents, a sign of state brutality and backwardness.

Experts say that supporters of the reforms want to adopt the whole package before campaigning starts for the general election on 3 November.

Turkey wants the EU to set a firm date by the end of the year when the country can start membership talks.

But Brussels insists reforms should be passed and implemented before it could consider such a move.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jonny Dymond
"The vote is an astonishing turn-up for the books"

Key stories

Background

Profiles

TALKING POINT
See also:

02 Aug 02 | Europe
Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes