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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July, 2003, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Turkey reform targets army power
Turkish troops in Istanbul
Turkey's military considers itself a guardian of the secular republic
The Turkish parliament has voted to approve a seventh package of reforms as part of its preparations for possible membership of the European Union.

The measure was passed by a show of hands with a clear majority.

The reforms are aimed at bringing Turkey's political system in line with EU norms before its candidacy is assessed at the end of 2004.

One particular area of focus in this latest package is the political influence of the military, which is much stronger in Turkey than other European countries.

PROPOSED REFORMS
Military council to meet less often
Powers of council's secretary-general to be reduced
Freedom of assembly to be eased
Torture cases to be given priority

The vote comes a day after the Turkish parliament approved a controversial bill granting partial amnesty to Kurdish militants.

The government hopes the Kurdish bill will be a significant step towards national reconciliation in a country where tens of thousands of people died during 15 years of conflict.

Radical

Wednesday's reform package is designed to cut back on the military's powers.

It proposes that the country's military council should meet less frequently and that its secretary-general have his powers in government reduced.

The reform proposals also aim to ease restrictions on freedom of assembly and give a higher priority to human rights abuse cases.

The BBC's Istanbul correspondent, Jonny Dymond, says the proposals are radical, but critics will watch keenly to see if they are implemented.

The military's position at the centre of government sits uncomfortably with Turkey's claim to be a modern democracy, so the government is cutting back on the military's powers, our correspondent says.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Johnny Dymond
"Change has been resisted by some"



SEE ALSO:
Turkey backs EU-inspired reforms
19 Jun 03  |  Europe
Turkey sets sights on EU
29 May 03  |  Europe


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