Erdogan: ”A constitutional reform package will reach parliament this month”
The government plans to submit a comprehensive constitutional reform package to Parliament as part of Turkey 's European Union reform efforts, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced over the weekend. Established to oversee the country's EU reforms, the Reform Monitoring Group (RIG), made up of Interior Minister Besir Atalay, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, and Chief Negotiator for EU talks Egemen Bagis, convened at the Prime Ministry Office in Istanbul 's Dolmabahce Palace to discuss planned reform steps in Turkey 's EU accession process. Speaking at a press conference following the group's meeting, which was chaired by Erdogan for the first time, the prime minister said, "A partial constitutional amendment package will be presented to Parliament soon, and a comprehensive constitutional reform package will be submitted by the end of March." Erdogan stressed that Turkey has to swiftly adopt constitutional amendments in order to continue moving forward in the areas of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Erdogan said the structure of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) should be overhauled in line with a new system of wider representation to ensure its objectivity, impartiality and transparency. "We're not talking about an A-to-Z change of the Constitution," Erdoğan said, adding that the changes would focus on areas such as the judiciary and political parties. The package is expected to make closing parties more difficult under the Council of Europe's Venice criteria, which allows closures only in extreme cases where a party is actively promoting violence. The package would also ease the current five-year political ban on leaders of closed parties. elections. Another change would require a unanimous decision by the Constitutional Court on closure cases, as opposed to the current two-thirds majority standard. Erdoğan also said an ombudsman law, of crucial importance in the EU harmonization process, will also be included in the package. The law is necessary since Turkey currently has no separate institution to inspect public services. Other topics likely to be covered in the package include a new committee on political ethics, civil servants' right to engage in collective bargaining and go on strike, and the protection of personal information.