Turkish Parliament again passes constitutional amendments

ANKARA, Turkey — Following a veto by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, the constitutional amendment to hold direct presidential elections was approved by Parliament again Monday (May 28th), after hours of debate. As required, a second round of voting will be held on Thursday. If adopted, Sezer must either approve the reforms or call a referendum on them. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) also says it is preparing legislation that will reduce the required period for a referendum from 120 days to 30 days. AKP’s strategy is to hold the presidential elections on July 22nd, the same day as the general elections.

In other news, the EU troika — composed of German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado and EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn — will visit Ankara next week. Talks will focus on Turkey’s EU membership bid and the possible opening of new negotiation chapters. (Sabah, Zaman – 29/05/07; NTV, Turkishpress.com, AFP – 28/05/07)

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