ANKARA: Turkey's new constitution will reduce the political influence of the once-powerful military in order to steer the EU-hopeful country more on the path of democracy, a parliamentary source said Friday.
The army, considered the self-appointed guardian of Turkish secularism, has intervened in politics since 1960 and has staged four coups. Since coming to power in 2002, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has taken steps to curb the power of the military.
"There is an agreement among the four parties who write the new charter. I think there will be no divergence on this subject because the objective is to achieve a civilian and more democratic constitution," the source said.
The four political parties represented in the 550-seat parliament have agreed to subordinate the army's top leadership, or General Staff, to the defence ministry in the new charter.
Under the existing constitution, drafted by the junta after the 1980 military takeover, the General Staff is directly tied to the prime ministry but is autonomous in exercising its legal powers and cannot be challenged by the defence ministry.
Hundreds of suspects, including army officers, are being tried over their alleged roles in plots to topple Erdogan's Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has undermined the army's prestige.
Despite their agreement to limit the army's influence, political parties have barely made progress on several other issues such as the definition of citizenship and rights granted to Turkey's Kurdish minority.
In case there is no agreement by April, Erdogan has warned that his ruling party, which has a strong majority in the parliament, will write a new text and put it to public vote.