Council Europe calls for urgent reform in Turkey

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The effective separation of powers in Turkey and the democratic functioning of its institutions are ‘crucial for the modernisation of the Turkish state,’ the report said.

Strasbourg -- The 47-member Council of Europe called Wednesday for urgent constitutional reform in Turkey in the face of polarisation between the Islamist-rooted government and secularists.

The effective separation of powers in Turkey, and the democratic functioning of its institutions, are "crucial for the modernisation of the Turkish state", according to a new report from the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in the framework of "post-monitoring dialogue" with the country.

In an information note the committee's chair, Ukrainian Serhiy Holovaty, said the political crisis which shook Turkey in 2007 and 2008 had highlighted the "weakness" of the country's constitutional and legal framework, and again called for constitutional reform.

"The Turkish political scene remains polarised in the climate of suspicion prevailing between the various political players, especially between the government and its traditionally Kemalist (secularist) opponents," the report said.

"Many reforms announced by the government are perceived from the outset as attempts to erode the founding principles of the Turkish Republic ... especially the principle of the secular nature of the state."

The note is the first public assessment in five years of how far Turkey is honouring its obligations and commitments to the Council of Europe and evaluates progress on 12 outstanding issues listed by PACE when it closed the full monitoring procedure for Turkey in April 2004.

These include lowering Turkey’s 10 per cent electoral threshold, reform of local and regional government, freedom of expression and association (especially of political parties), training of the security forces and judges, and the policy of "zero tolerance" on torture, as well as the protection of minorities.


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