Marianne Mikko, head of the Estonian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and delegation member Jaak Madison will on Thursday begin their observation mission for the Sunday, April 16 referendum on constitutional amendments in Turkey.
In Mikko's opinion, Turkish society is more or less equally divided between supporters of the constitutional reform and those who are against it, according to a Riigikogu press release. "Some are for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and strong presidential power; others are clearly against it," said Mikko, the PACE Monitoring Committee's co-rapporteur on Turkey and Vice-President of PACE. "This is the impression [I] received after meetings with Turkish journalists, NGOs, trade unions and representatives of authorities in January."
She explained that the constitutional reform would increase the number of members of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the country's parliament, from 550 to 600, but at the same time grant President Erdoğan more powers and authority.
"Such a rapid transition from a parliamentary to a presidential system of government is not reasonable," Mikko remarked. "The Venice Committee of the Council of Europe is also of the opinion that the referendum in being conducted hurriedly and that the planned constitutional changes do not take into consideration the interests of all population groups."
Prior to the referendum on Sunday, the 20-member PACE delegation will meet with the head of the Electoral Council of Turkey, media and NGO representatives as well as leaders of political parties from among both supporters and opponents of the reform.
"The Turkish constitutional referendum is another mileston that demonstrates to European countries whether Turkey is moving toward authoritarianism or an unlikely miracle will takeplace and Erdoğan's proposals to change the constitution will be rejected," Madison said. "Unfortunately, recent polls indicate that around 55 percent are in favor of amendments to the constitution. This is a sign to Europe that such a country doesnot fit into the EU and would also call into question cooperation with Turkey."
Mikko will be observing the referendum in Ankara while Madison will be observing in Antalya.
Editor: Aili Vahtla