Languages
Page last updated at 14:22 GMT, Monday, 19 April 2010 15:22 UK

Turkey opens debate on reform of constitution

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Mr Erdogan says new laws are too often blocked by the courts

Parliament in Turkey has begun debating changes to the constitution that would shift powers away from the highly secular judiciary and army.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the changes would improve democracy and help put Turkey on the path to European Union membership.

But the nationalist opposition is against reforms it says would threaten the independence of the courts.

Parties have banned MPs from leaving Ankara during the two-week debate.

The reforms, if approved, would change the way judges are appointed to the highest courts, make it harder to ban political parties, and make Turkey's military answerable to civilian courts.

The governing AK Party was itself nearly shut down by the Constitutional Court two years ago.

Critics accuse the party of having an Islamist agenda, and of wanting to take powers away from the secularist establishment, with which it has clashed frequently.

The current constitution was brought in after the 1980 military coup.

On Sunday, Mr Erdogan complained that government initiatives were frequently blocked by the courts, adding that his party wanted "to eradicate the imbalance between those who are elected and those who are appointed".

The prime minister also said that he favoured a presidential system for Turkey and that it could be brought in with the other reforms.

If the proposals gain parliamentary support, they are likely to be put to the Turkish people in a referendum later this year.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Turkish military at uncomfortable crossroads
24 Feb 10 |  Special Reports
Turkish court bans pro-Kurd party
11 Dec 09 |  Europe
Turkey unveils reforms for Kurds
13 Nov 09 |  Europe
Turkey military court law passed
09 Jul 09 |  Europe
Turkish president 'facing trial'
18 May 09 |  Europe
Turkey timeline
22 Mar 12 |  Country profiles
Turkey country profile
22 Mar 12 |  Country profiles

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific