Turkey’s prime minister has announced a long-awaited package of democratic reforms he says will make Turkey a better place to live in. They come after a period during which his AK government has faced mass street protests, and talks with the Kurds which have sought to end their four decades-long armed struggle.
“Last year, we made an amendment that paved the way for instruction in languages other than Turkish in state schools. Now it will be possible to instruct in languages other than Turkish in non-state schools,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Initial reactions from the Kurds are that the reforms do not go far enough.
“We are going to amend the regulation on employees’ appearance in state offices and we are lifting the ban that bars women wearing head scarves. The regulation includes restrictions on women and men’s appearances and this is a violation and discrimination against the freedom of religion and consciousness,” Erdogan added.
Also of significance are a lowering of the share of vote threshold for parties to enter parliament and obtain state election financing, and a removal of parties’ obligation to campaign and compete for votes in at least 50 percent of the country, which will favour smaller parties, like the Kurds.