The public should have say on charter reform: Deputy PM

ANKARA: Turkish citizens should be asked about constitutional changes even if the necessary votes exist in parliament, Turkey's deputy prime minister said Thursday.

Constitutional changes are one of the most important decisions facing Turkey, Numan Kurtulmus told state-run news station, TRT Haber.

"The best way is going to the people even if [the proposed change] gets 367 votes in parliament," he said.

The constitutional amendment process has been managed well so far, he added.

The government has long sought to replace the current parliamentary system with a presidential one, citing flaws in the setup that hampers Turkey's development.

Following a meeting with opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Thursday that Turkey would likely hold a constitutional referendum next summer.

Yildirim said last month that a committee within the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party had completed work on a draft constitution that includes items for a presidential system.

The proposed changes would be put to a public referendum even if the government has the votes in parliament that would negate a vote by the citizenry, Yildirim said.

The new constitutional draft needs 330 votes to pave the way for a referendum.

The AK party with 316 seats and, the MHP with 40 representatives in parliament, both back the bill.

Kurtulmus also addressed remarks by Russia's foreign minister who denied Moscow's involvement in a deadly airstrike against Turkish soldiers Nov. 24.

Neither Russia nor Syria, with its air force, had anything to do with this. We don't want a repetition of these sort of incidents. It's essential to discuss this issue with the United States and other institutions," Sergei Lavrov said at a joint news conference Thursday with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Kurtulmus said Turkey would continue to push for answers. "During that period, there are records of which planes and air vehicles were there," Kurtulmus said. "Turkey will not let go of this issue. It will be revealed and disclosed who conducted this operation.

Four Turkish soldiers were killed and nine others were wounded in the strike in northern Syria during Operation Euphrates Shield that was launched by Turkey in late August to eliminate Daesh terrorist from northern Syria along the Turkish border.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry issued a correction Thursday that said Lavrov's remarks were 'Neither Russia nor Syria conducted the attack on November 24, when Turkish soldiers lost their lives" instead of "Syrian regime conducted the airstrike on Turkish soldiers."

Source: Anadolu Agency