Gov't set to announce major EU reform package
The Reform Watch Group convened yesterday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss government-led reforms for full membership in the EU. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, which was also attended by Interior Minister Besir Atalay, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Chief Negotiator for EU talks Egemen Bagis, Premier Erdogan announced that the government would submit to Parliament a comprehensive reform package, including legal amendments in various areas, by the end of this month. Erdogan said the government would also bring a constitutional amendment bill to Parliament as soon as possible. "It is of vital importance to implement various legal amendments, particularly constitutional amendments, to press ahead with our efforts to strengthen democracy, rule of law and human rights in Turkey," Erdogan said. The planned reform package, including constitutional and legal amendments, will introduce changes to strengthen impartiality of justice, and to restructure the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) to ensure the objectivity, impartiality and transparency of the key judicial institution in line with related international documents, Erdogan explained. "This issue is among the short-term priorities of the planned reform package," Erdogan said, adding that the introduction of an ombudsman system aimed at helping to reduce the heavy workload of courts and to contribute to resolving citizens' complaints on various issues was also among the planned steps in addition to changes to the legal regulations on political parties and elections. The government plans to prepare the reform bill as soon as possible and discuss it inside and outside the parliament, then make its final decision and take necessary steps, Erdogan said. "The steps we have been taking on the road to the EU are to bring more advanced standards to our country, making our country freer and prosperous, as well as ensuring a well-functioning democracy and rule of law," Erdogan added.