Turkish government to brief EU on constitutional reform

The government will this week take two scheduled meetings as an opportunity to brief European Union officials about ongoing efforts to reform Turkey's Constitution, which was drafted after a military coup in 1980.

Turkish government to brief EU on constitutional reform
The government will this week take two scheduled meetings as an opportunity to brief European Union officials about ongoing efforts to reform Turkey's Constitution, which was drafted after a military coup in 1980.

Turkish officials attending a meeting of Turkey and the EU Troika in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, will provide up-to-date information about Turkey's reform efforts on Tuesday. In Ankara on the same day, Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat, the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) deputy chairman, will offer an extensive briefing to ambassadors of EU countries in Ankara on the ongoing reform preparations at a meeting hosted by the Portuguese Embassy.
Plans to rewrite the constitution were part of the AK Party's manifesto for the July 22 parliamentary election, which it won with 47 percent of the national vote. The party says the new draft will focus on individual freedom and improving democracy. It is also expected to weaken the powers of the army, which has removed four governments from power since 1960. The draft charter is likely to be presented to the public in early October and go to Parliament early next year.

The EU side is expected to raise expectations for a swift amendment of the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which critics say restricts freedom of expression, and entry into force of a law that will extend freedoms for minority foundations. EU officials have recently said amendments to Article 301 should not be tied to the comprehensive and time-consuming efforts to reform the constitution, saying the amendment of the article should be a short-term priority.

The European Commission is expected to release a regular progress report assessing Turkey's membership efforts in November. Lack of steps to meet the bloc's short-term expectations could lead to a negative assessment, analysts say. The Turkish delegation going to Portugal will be led by Ambassador Ahmet Acet, deputy undersecretary for the Foreign Ministry. The EU side will comprise senior envoys from term president Portugal, the next term president Slovenia and the commission.

Meanwhile Foreign Minister Ali Babacan will meet senior representatives of all ministries and state institutions involved in Turkish EU reform efforts. Babacan and the participating bureaucrats will review the process and assess the steps to be taken.


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Last Mod: 17 Eylül 2007, 12:15
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