Turkish Security Council Says Backs Changes for EU

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s powerful National Security Council said on Tuesday it supported a package of proposed constitutional changes aimed at preparing the country for European Union membership.

But a short statement issued after the meeting gave no clue about the tone of the discussion about changes which cut to the heart of relations between the military and politicians.

"A wish was expressed at the meeting that parliament should pass some measures and constitutional changes foreseen in the National Program–some of which were prepared in line with EU membership," the statement said.

The changes are designed to bring Turkey more into line with the European Union–which Ankara hopes to join–and touch on sensitive areas such as Kurdish language restrictions considered by the military as vital for national security.

Turkish media said the monthly meeting of the MGK–an advisory body of military top brass and political leaders–could resurrect a squabble between the military and Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz.

Yilmaz–who is in charge of EU relations–said in a speech to his Motherland Party congress earlier this month that concerns about national security were used by the military as an excuse to block reforms. The country’s powerful generals responded with a withering public attack.

The Turkish military has eased governmen’s from power four times in 40 years–twice in outright coups.

It was a row at the MGK between the president and prime minister that sparked Turkey’s financial crisis in February. Tension among coalition parties over reforms promised to the IMF and World Bank in return for $15.7 billion in loans this year have jolted markets repeatedly in a series of after-shocks.

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