Turkey's government will present proposed reforms of the constitution to parliament by the end of March, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday, according to Turkish media reports.
PM Erdogan attended EU Reform Watch Group meeting on Sunday, February 28
The proposals come in the midst of renewed tensions with the military following the arrests of more than 30 officers, including two retired generals, charged with plotting to overthrow the government.
Speaking to the reporters after the meeting on Sunday, he said that the government will submit a reform package to the Parliament by late March regarding the necessary amendments for the EU negotiations, primarily including a judicial reform.
Premier Erdogan called for reconciliation within the parliament or referendum, saying that no one should block these reforms just because the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will put them into practice.
"It is of vital importance to implement various legal amendments, particularly constitutional amendments, to go on with our initiatives regarding democracy, rule of law and human rights," Erdogan said.
"Among short-term priorities"
Erdogan also criticized the stance of the opposition parties and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) about a Constitutional amendment. He said that HSYK is not the legislative organ in Turkey, underlining the government’s effort to implement in Turkey a combined standard of what is implemented in the 27 EU member states and even in the world on the implementation of a Constitutional amendment.
Erdogan said a recent matter of discussion in Turkey was strengthening of independence and impartiality of justice, and restructuring of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) on the basis of objectivity, impartiality and transparency and in line with international documents.
"This issue is among short-term priorities of the strategy and action plan," Erdogan said.
Erdogan said the government was working on a judicial reform, including ombudsman's office, European Union (EU)-related issues, issues concerning political parties and elections.
The government aimed to prepare the bill as soon as possible and discuss it inside and outside the parliament, then make its final decision and take necessary steps, Erdogan said.
Erdogan said if every one was talking about an independent, impartial and modern legal system, s/he had to leave aside prejudices and ideologies and work to ensure the system as soon as possible.
"Nobody has the right to hamper this process just because AK (Justice & Development) Party is pioneering it," he said.
The Prime Minister noted that if consensus cannot be reached for a Constitutional amendment, then the government will seek public support through a referendum.
Also, Erdogan said Turkey was planning to prepare a draft law on establishment of a new, professional and civilian border security organization this year.
"We will also complete necessary initiatives regarding Foreigners Law and Refugee Law in 2010," he said.
Erdogan said a migration and refuge administration would be set up under the auspices of the Interior Ministry.
Prime Minister Erdogan said Turkey had also sent a bill on establishment of a national human rights agency to the parliament, and the Interior Ministry had prepared a bill on establishment of a commission to control acts of security forces and a board on countering discrimination.
Erdogan said the Interior Ministry would also prepare a more liberal demonstration and protest marches law.
"The steps we have been taking on the road to the EU are to bring more advanced standards to our country, make our country more free and prosperous, and ensure a well-functioning democracy and state of law," he said.
Erdogan said Turkey was trying to shoulder burden of the EU, not to be a burden to the union.
The government was working to bring a democracy in European standards to Turkey, he said.
"I have said there will not be any early elections, however referendum is one thing and early elections is another," he said.
Erdogan said the elections would be held on time, but said Turkish nation should get used to referenda.
Turkey adopted a military-drafted constitution in 1982, two years after a coup by the armed forces.