Key EU politicians urge participation in Sept. 12 referendum on constitutional changes
Approval of the constitutional reform package in this month's referendum will be a great stride forward for Turkey's democratization and modernization, said European Parliament Turkey rapporteur Ria Oomen-Ruijten in a statement on Wednesday, urging every Turkish citizen to vote on the package on Sept. 12. Decrying reports that some Turkish political parties have been urging a boycott of the referendum – apparently referring to the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) –she said, "Everybody having the opportunity to express themselves is a principle of democracy." In related news, Johannes Swoboda, vice president of the EP's Party of European Socialists group, dismissed concerns that approval of the reform package would lead to a "civilian dictatorship" in Turkey. Speaking to Austrian newspaper Der Standard, Swoboda said he was unconvinced by allegations that the package is aimed at putting pressure on the high judiciary. "I hope the CHP [main opposition Republican People's Party] will reach reconciliation with the government by suggesting alternatives instead of making such claims," he said. Since the package has already been passed by Parliament and reviewed by the Constitutional Court, Oomen-Ruijten added that "now every citizen should clearly send a message. Every citizen should take the opportunity to say either yes or no."