Erdogan vows constitution change for 'new Turkey'

2014-07-11 20:46
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Adem Altan, AFP)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Adem Altan, AFP)

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Istanbul - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday vowed to press for a new constitution if he is elected president in August elections, saying the old Turkey was a "thing of the past".

"A new constitution on the path to new Turkey will be one of our priorities if elected president... A new constitution means a new future," he told thousands of cheering supporters at a rally in Istanbul.

Changing the constitution would allow Erdogan to give greater powers to the presidency, until now a largely ceremonial role.

He is expected by most analysts to easily win the 10 August election, possibly in the first round, despite a turbulent past year that saw huge protests against his rule.

Erdogan on Friday set out four priorities for Turkey heading to 2023, when the country will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the modern Turkish state by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

These are advancing democracy, ensuring a "normalisation" of politics and society, improving social welfare and being among the top ten economies worldwide, he said.

Erdogan unveiled a document called "On the road to a new Turkey" which he said would act as a "roadmap" to achieving the goals.

"The old Turkey is now a thing of the past," he said, emphasising that all Turks would benefit from the changes, whether they voted for him or not.

"It is now a country where people do not wake up every morning fearing another crisis, it is a country where people have hope for the future," he added.

Erdogan added that if elected president he would be the "closest follower and supporter of the [peace] process" with Kurdish rebels in the southeast, which has been recently revived after years of deadly conflict.

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