No. 22




Constitution reforms pave Turkey’s way to Europe

  • Janek Laidvee

    Adviser/Head of Secretariat of the Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu

At the referendum in Turkey on 12 September 2010, nearly 58 per cent of Turkish citizens who voted approved the constitutional amendments package which will modernise the Constitution of Turkey.

The Constitutional Committee of the Estonian parliament (the Riigikogu) went on a visit to Turkish parliament in May 2010, immediately after the parliament had passed the Bill on Amendments to the Constitution and sent it to a referendum. At the meetings with members of the Constitution committee, the committee on inspection of human rights and the gender equality committee of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu had an opportunity to obtain information about the background of the Constitution reform from the direct source and to share Estonia’s experience in building a democratic state based on the rule of law. The changes relating to the reform of the 12th September can be divided into two groups: the first one concerns better protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms and, the second one, reforming of the state based on the rule of law and of the judicial system. An important amendment to the Constitution is the establishing of the institution of Ombudsman as well as ensuring the opportunity for citizens to have recourse directly to the Constructional Court in case of violation of the fundamental rights. Several amendments address directly the problem points of Turkish democracy. The jurisdiction of military courts is restricted and disputes related to military service are left for them to resolve. In other respects, cases would be adjudicated in general courts. Time will show if these changes are enough to bring Turkey out of the political and constitutional crisis which the state is experiencing in the opinion of some experts.

Full article in Estonian