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    Alleged anti-AKP plans by military spark debate in Turkey

    Hurriyet Daily News
    15.06.2009 - 00:00 | Son Güncelleme:

    ANKARA - Claims about military plans to finish off the ruling Justice and Development Party and the religious Gülen group have ignited debates across Turkey. The media have demonstrated high sensitivity with not only pro-government, but also dailies Hürriyet and Milliyet, publishing editorials and columns urging for a rapid conclusion to the investigation.

    The allegations published in daily Taraf about military plans to finish off the ruling party and Fethullah Gülen, leader of the religious "Gülen movement," have stirred up controversy among politicians and in the media.

    In Şanlıurfa, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday that the government was looking into the matter. "If necessary, we will open a case," he said, according to private NTV television.

    "I hope the claims are not correct," said ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, deputy Mustafa Elitaş in remarks published in daily Milliyet.

    "First of all, it must be found out if the claims are true or not," said another AKP deputy Bekir Bozdağ.

    Main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, deputy Ahmet Ersin said he did not believe that such a plan existed. "Fethullah Gülen and his group have seized all the bureaucracy and now they are trying to harm the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces]. This movement is as dangerous as al-Qaeda," he said.

    Last week, daily Taraf ran a headline story about an alleged clandestine action plan targeting the AKP government and all members of the Gülen movement. The plan, allegedly drafted by the General Staff’s operations division, is said to contain efforts to fight fundamentalism, end the activities of religious movements particularly the AKP and the Gülen group that are accused of trying to undermine the secular order and establish an Islamic state.

    The General Staff announced Friday it has launched an investigation into the claims. "If such a plan exists, it is serious. We cannot accept," AKP deputy leader Abdulkadir Aksu said. Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, deputy Oktay Vural said if the document was reflecting the truth, it could not be accepted.

    "But if the document is not correct, this means there is a big organization, a conspiracy to harm the TSK," he said. "The government and the TSK should thoroughly tackle this issue. If this is the job of a few officers from the TSK, what’s necessary should be done." Mehmet Şandır of the MHP said it must be clarified at once if the document exists or not. "If the document is reflecting the truth, no matter what institution it is, such unlawful, anti-democratic actions cannot be accepted. The document may not be correct. Who leaked it to Taraf must be found and its timing also must be questioned," he said.

    Turkey Party leader Abdüllatif Şener, a former Cabinet member from the AKP, said there was no exact information on the existence of such a plan.

    Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, meanwhile, criticized the Military Prosecutor’s Office for banning broadcasts about the document seized in the office of retired captain Serdar Öztürk, who was arrested as part of the ongoing Ergenekon investigation. Arınç said only the court seeing the Ergenekon investigation could impose such a ban, adding that the military prosecutor’s office holding itself with the responsibility was controversial.

    Media sensitivity

    The media, on the other hand, displayed high sensitivity on the allegations. Not only pro-government media but also dailies Hürriyet and Milliyet published editorials and columns urging a swift conclusion to the probe. "It is a heartbreaking document. Now it must be questioned: What’s its relation with the military? Isn’t it a crime?" said Hasan Cemal in his column published in daily Milliyet. "According to a statement from the General Staff an investigation has been launched on the issue. Let’s hope the Erdoğan-led government handles the issue, the judiciary takes action and the media does what’s necessary. Otherwise, democracy and the rule of law will continue to be only words in this country." Fehmi Koru, columnist for the pro-government daily Yenişafak, said: "If the document in hand is genuine, there is only a single detail that needs to be learned: Is it a junta act or the execution of a duty being fulfilled by orders from the top of a hierarchy? Both situations are bad and both are worse than each other."

    In his editorial, Ertuğrul Özkök, editor-in-chief of daily Hürriyet, said when he read about the claims he remembered previous statements made by Arınç, who once said: "Thank God very much that we did not enter a war with the commanders."

    "I express my feelings on the condition that the document published in Taraf is genuine. So far I haven’t received any information if it is fake. Chief of Staff Communication Department’s head made an ambiguous statement (on Friday) and only said the issue is being investigated. I write this column on this condition: If this document is genuine, one asks: Didn’t you learn a lesson yet?"

    Emre Aköz of daily Sabah said in his column that the psychological operation work was not a surprise at all, adding that similar work was being done no matter who leads the General Staff. "I have a question: For example, how will we answer those who ask at an international conference, ’Why is your brave military launching a psychological operation against the people with whose taxes it is being fed?"

    In a speech on private channel CNN-Türk, Sedat Ergin, editor-in-chief of Milliyet, said when the retired officer’s name was Googled, his name appeared in coup diaries allegedly written by a retired admiral. "This means the person who drafted those reports is still at the General Staff headquarters. This is the first possibility, namely the possibility of the document being genuine. The second prospect is that the document is forged. It is serious if the two situations are correct or not. The public has no patience to wait under such a circumstance. It must be clarified at once."


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