By Esra Kaymak Avci
Turkey’s foreign minister has accused Western media of biased and inaccurate coverage of the referendum on constitutional changes set to face Turkish voters less than three weeks from now.
“The way the Western media is covering is not true, unfortunately, is not based on the facts, I mean this constitutional package,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week during a visit to Washington, in an interview posted on news and opinion website Breitbart.com last night, as well as on YouTube.
“The same media, in the United States and in Europe, which has left ideology” has “taken sides” against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who spearheaded the changes proposed in the April 16 referendum, he added.
But Cavusoglu said this interference in the referendum had backfired, as “our ‘yes’ vote has been increased after such involvement or intervention by media and politicians in some Western countries.”
Cavusoglu added that the Western media oppose not only Erdogan and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump, but also other strong right-wing politicians like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
"Now also they are targeting Poland," he said. "They hate strong, right-wing governments."
‘Will of the people’ in charge
On the proposed constitutional changes, including shifting Turkey from a parliamentary system of governance to a presidential one, Cavusoglu said the current constitution gives the president great
The new system will hold him accountable while boosting the power of parliament, which will be able to check the president’s power.
He added that a presidential system would also bring a clear separation of powers between the government and parliament, unlike Turkey’s current system.
Asked if the system would be similar to the U.S. presidential system, Cavusoglu said that the power would go directly to the will of the people, who will be able to elect their own president and the government once the referendum is approved.
Under the current system bureaucrats rather than parliamentarians draft legislation, he said.
But under the new system only parliamentarians will be able to draft legislation as "they know the problems of the people better than the bureaucrats," said Cavusoglu.
"The [proposed] system is very clear and it is very good for Turkey," he said.
Cavusoglu added that the changes would also strengthen the separation of powers in addition to the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, which is a major criterion for democracies.
The constitutional changes have been discussed since Erdogan was elected president in August 2014.
The reforms would hand wide-ranging executive powers to the president, and the post of prime minister would be abolished. The president would also be allowed to retain ties to a political party.
Other changes would see the minimum age for parliamentary candidates lowered to 18 and the number of deputies rise to 600. Under the new constitution, simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections would be held in November 2019.
The far-right Breitbart website is seen as close to Trump, as its former chief is top Trump advisor Steve Bannon.