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Wednesday, 3 October, 2001, 19:34 GMT 20:34 UK
Turkey aims for EU membership
Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit
Ecevit wants to meet the EU's requirements
Turkey has passed a package of reforms - including limiting the death penalty - aimed at improving its chances of joining the European Union.

The reforms
Death penalty limited
Broadcasts allowed in Kurdish
Restrictions lifted on public rallies
More civilians in National Security Council
Detention period for suspects reduced
The Turkish parliament adopted 34 changes to the constitution, which was drafted after a military coup in 1980 and has been criticised as repressive by human rights groups.

The measures outlaw capital punishment except in times of war and for acts of terrorism and allow broadcasts to me made in Kurdish.

The amendments were passed by 474 votes to 16 and will go before the president for final approval.

Civil liberties

Turkey has been debating ways of improving civil liberties since the end of 1999 when the EU said it could apply for membership if its human rights record improved.

Kurdish woman
Kurds will be able to broadcast in their own language
Entry to the EU is barred to any country which allows the death penalty.

Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit wanted the legislation passed before the EU published a report on Turkey's progress towards membership in November.

"A great step has been taken in order to improve our democracy," Mr Ecevit told parliament.

The amendments also reduce the influence of the military in the National Security Council by increasing the number of civilians in the policy-setting body, following EU complaints.

'Not far enough'

The changes have widespread support among Turkish society, but critics say they do not go far enough.

"The amendments will only partially satisfy the EU. They are cosmetic changes and won't fool anyone," said Oya Akgonenc from the pro-Islamic Felicity Party.

Alongside permitting greater freedoms, however, the government will still be able to ban Kurdish broadcasts it considers a threat to national security.

Education in Kurdish also remains banned and most prisoners on death row were convicted on charges of terrorism, which remains a capital offence.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Tabitha Morgan
"These are very significant changes"
See also:

13 Aug 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Turkey
30 Apr 01 | Euro-glossary
Nice Treaty
30 Apr 01 | Euro-glossary
Enlargement
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