Erdogan: Turkey at crossroads over system change

Erdogan: Turkey at crossroads over system change
# 10 February 2017 18:01 (UTC +04:00)

Turkey has reached an important crossroads on the way to changing its governmental system, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday, adding that the Turkish people would weigh in on this proposed change on April 16, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.

"The presidential system brought about by amending the Constitution will strengthen Turkey’s efforts to achieve its goals by protecting its unity, solidarity, and brotherhood," Erdogan told a ceremony in Turkey's central Aksaray province, just hours after signing the constitutional amendment package, paving the way to the April referendum.

Erdogan said a "Turkish-type presidential system" would replace the current, two-headed system, in which there is both a president and prime minister.

"The system we will bring is different because the president will be an active member of a [political] party with the new system," he explained.

Evoking the 1919-1923 War of Independence, which led to the foundation of the modern Republic of Turkey, Erdogan said Turkey "now faces a kind of second war of independence both economically, diplomatically, and on all fronts."

Citing a well-known saying of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the republic’s founder, Erdogan said: "There is no defense line, but defense territory. This territory is the whole of the motherland."

"This line of defense is the whole country, the whole world," he added.

The constitutional changes have been discussed since Erdogan was elected president in August 2014. The 18-article bill was passed by parliament in January, with 339 votes in favor -- nine more than needed to put the proposal to a referendum.

The changes would hand wide-ranging executive powers to the president, and the post of prime minister would be abolished. The president would also be allowed to retain ties to a political party.

Other changes would see the minimum age for parliamentary candidates reduced to 18 and the number of deputies rise to 600. Simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections for a five-year term would be held in November 2019 under the new constitution.