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News Archive

Tension deepens between Turkish military, government

25. February 2010. | 08:21

Source: Hürriyet Daily News

The standoff between Turkey’s government and military intensifies as high-level officials come together for a slew of unannounced meetings, including the top army brass.

The standoff between Turkey’s government and military intensifies as high-level officials come together for a slew of unannounced meetings, including the top army brass.

Rumors are leaked they are considering resigning in protest of recent detentions of fellow soldiers. In response, the ruling party warns against interfering in ongoing judicial investigations

The rift that emerged between Turkey’s government and military after the latest detentions of military commanders has deepened to the point where the opposition believes an early election is needed to ease the mounting tension.

Nearly 50 military personnel, including former chiefs of the Air Force and Navy, have been detained on allegations of plotting to topple the ruling government in 2003.

With rumors that all four-star generals were considering resigning from their positions in response to the detentions, the government preferred to carry out "silent diplomacy" Wednesday, possibly in an effort to reduce the tension.

Following Monday's secret meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek and Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ, the top general is expected to meet with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday or Friday.

The opposition, however, called for early elections as the only way out of this vicious circle between the military and government. Turkey’s nationalist party leader Devlet Bahçeli on Wednesday pointed to the urgent necessity of early general elections as the only way to ease the mounting tension in the country. In a written statement, the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, leader Bahçeli said the future of Turkey’s democratic regime was under threat and Turkey was drifting toward a conflict.

“In this picture, the government fails to be a cure to recent problems and instead is producing the crisis itself,” Bahçeli said. “This dangerous process should be halted. A new understanding of politics that will embrace all values is needed.”

MHP deputy leader Mehmet Ekici on Wednesday said: “All of Turkey’s institutions will be overwhelmed with the possible resignation of military commanders. We should be informed of what is happening on the matter. The prime minister should relieve the nation.”

AKP reacts against military

Erdoğan on Wednesday continued to keep silent over the recent developments, including Tuesday’s gathering of the General Staff, with the first reaction instead coming from his deputy Salih Kapusuz. Kapusuz said all actions, meetings and statements that could have a negative impact on the ongoing judicial process regarding military officials will be held accountable in the future.

“It is too early to comment because the judiciary process is ongoing. Prosecution doesn’t mean that they [the detained military commanders] are guilty. Everything that happens and is said today will be brought onto the country’s agenda in the future, too,” said Kapusuz, deputy leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

Speaking to private channel NTV on Wednesday, AKP’s Suat Kılıç criticized some media reports and Web sites that feature misleading and partial news on recent developments. He also called on everyone to let the judiciary carry out its work.

The remarks came amid mounting tension over a new wave of detentions of former and current military commanders, which has led to an unexpected gathering of the General Staff on Tuesday.

Some 49 current and retired members of the Turkish military were detained Monday for suspected connections to the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) Operation, an alleged military coup plan against the ruling AKP written in 2003 and brought to light by daily Taraf in January.

Tense developments

Following Monday’s detentions, Tuesday saw an unprecedented meeting held by the General Staff heating up the capital’s agenda.

Ankara was first shaken in the early hours of Tuesday by rumors on some Web sites that all the current commanders planned to resign collectively in a show of reaction against the detentions. The Web sites Tuesday also claimed Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek late Monday paid a visit to the General Staff and met with Gen. Başbuğ in the absence of Erdoğan, who was in Spain to attend a summit.

Başbuğ allegedly conveyed the military’s plan for resignation to Çiçek. He also complained about the method used in detaining the military officers.

Çiçek on Tuesday confirmed the meeting with Başbuğ, saying he met Başbuğ to discuss the allegations reported by daily Taraf this week that some soldiers in the western province of Balıkesir were using a password among themselves that humiliated Erdoğan. Çiçek denied other allegations mentioned on the Web sites.

It was later revealed that a meeting was scheduled between Çiçek and President Abdullah Gül at 6 p.m. Tuesday, but Çiçek canceled the meeting to avoid possible misunderstanding amid the ongoing tension.

Later in the day, the General Staff announced on its Web site that a meeting was held at the General Staff headquarters with the participation of all of Army generals and fleet commanders on active duty in the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, to assess the situation that has emerged as a result of the investigation conducted by the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office.

Erdoğan, who returned to Turkey late Tuesday, declined to comment on the issue. Erdoğan later held a mini summit at his house with Çiçek and Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin to discuss the recent developments.


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22. February - 28. February 2010.