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Europe

Turkey's top court annuls parts of constitutional reform

Turkey's highest court has struck down parts of a constitutional reform package, saying it violates the country's basic law. The modernizations are part of plans to bring Turkey in line with European standards.

Road sign with EU stars surrounding the Turkish cresent moon symbol

The government says reforms are needed to join the EU

The Constitutional Court in Turkey has deemed that three parts of the government's reform package are contrary to the constitution.

As a result, slight adjustments have been made by the court to the proposed reforms which altered the way judges and prosecutors are appointed. These changes aside, the court gave the go-ahead for a September referendum on the reform package as a whole.

The package, which limits the power of the fiercely secular judiciary and the army, was pushed through parliament in May by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The secular opposition in parliament voted against it and immediately took their challenge to the Constitutional Court.

The opposition argue the AKP are using the reforms to strengthen their hold on the judiciary and are jeopardizing Turkey's basic law of the separation of powers.

However, government officials have rejected this, saying the reforms are part of a modernization effort that would bring the constitution in line with European standards.

The government criticized the court for interfering in the content of the amendments but Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin acknowledged that "even with some phrases removed" it was still "a serious reform to the constitution."

Now the constitutional amendments - minus the three critical provisions - will be put to a referendum on September 12.

Author: Catherine Bolsover (dpa/AFP/AP)
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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