Germany hails Turkish 'yes' to constitutional referendum

13th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Germany on Monday welcomed Turkey's constitutional reforms passed in a referendum reshaping the judiciary and curbing the military's powers, calling them an important step towards Europe.

"I welcome the success of the referendum," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement. "The reform of the constitution is another important step by Turkey on the road towards Europe.

"The contents of the reform package were discussed intensively in Turkey. This discussion within civil society -- as well as the concrete distribution of the balance of power within the state -- is very much to be welcomed."

He added: "I am confident that the process of reform in Turkey towards a further opening up of society will continue."

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said provisional results showed that some 58 percent of the voters backed the amendments in the referendum on Sunday, hailing the outcome as a "turning point" for Turkish democracy.

The secularist opposition had campaigned against the amendments, charging that they masked a power grab by Erdogan's Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Germany, home to some three million people of Turkish origin, is cool on the idea of Turkey joining the European Union, favouring instead a "privileged partnership" between the 27-nation bloc and the Muslim-majority country.

© 2010 AFP

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