Gov't bill to change coup article passes Parliament

Late on Friday, Parliament passed a proposal to modify Article 35 of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) Internal Service Code, which has provided a legal basis -- and an incentive -- for military interventions in civilian government.
All political parties represented in Parliament passed the proposal, which was submitted in late June by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), by a majority vote.
Article 35 of the TSK Internal Service Code has often been criticized for its role in the past four military coups in Turkey, and the government recently announced plans to either amend or abolish it.
Article 35 entered the TSK's statutes after the coup in May 27, 1960. It was later cited as the legal basis for military interventions in March 12, 1971 and Sept. 12, 1980. The article says the military has a duty to “preserve and protect the Republic of Turkey.”
The proposed amendment redefines the TSK's duty as “defending Turkish soil against threats and dangers from abroad, empowering the military force to ensure deterrence, performing missions abroad given by Parliament and helping to maintain international peace.”
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan, speaking at his party's parliamentary group meeting in late June, talked about the amendment of Article 35 and said his government is “removing the shadow over Turkish democracy.”
“As the Justice and Development Party government, we have been the one that opened the way through constitutional amendments for the trial of those intervening in democracy. All those [coup perpetrators] who gave an accounting in court used this article as a shield for themselves and as an excuse for their interventions in democracy. Now, we are removing this shield, mistake and shadow over our democracy,” he said.

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