Türkiye'nin en iyi köşe yazarları en güzel köşe yazıları ile Hürriyet'te! Usta yazarlar ve gündemi değerlendiren köşe yazılarını takip edin.

An invalid guarantee

Looking over his glasses and directly into my eyes, a bewildered European friend asked why people he believed would have been delighted with the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, dominated Parliament legislating a groundbreaking law allowing civilian courts to prosecute army officials were so angered with the development and why the National Security Council, or MGK, met almost eight hours on the issue. "Is it not good that staging a coup has become more difficult in Turkey? Is it not good that civilian courts now will have the power to prosecute military officers should they plot a coup?"

Before I managed to quip out a meaningful answer, he continued: "Are you not against military coups? I thought you were. Why are you criticizing the government of enacting a reform aimed at strengthening a civilian justice system and curtailing some extraordinary powers and indeed privileges of the military incompatible in a democratic country? Don’t you understand what the government did in enacting that law was not just empowering civilian courts to prosecute officers and generals, but indeed limiting the influence of military in policy making by reducing their immunity from civilian prosecution? If coup plotters can be tried in civilian courts, then it might become difficult and too risky to plot a coup."

Indeed, my friend was right. How can anyone who claims to be a democrat aspiring to see wider democracy, enhanced individual rights and consolidated civilian governance in this country compatible with the standards of the European club of democracies that we aspire to join in as a full member object to a legislation eradicating an anomaly of democratic governance in this country?

I tried to explain to him that the vast majority of this country, irrespective of their political tendencies, would be delighted to see the AKP government undertaking some meaningful reforms aimed at consolidating civilian justice and promoting independence of civilian justice system. For example, bringing an end to the presence of the justice minister and his undersecretary at the High Board of Judges and Prosecutors (a body that decides appointments, promotions as well as punishment of the judges and prosecutors) and taking some other moves aimed at limiting if not totally eradication of custody of civilian political power on the justice mechanism would be a far more meaningful reform. Still, excluding the timing and the methodology applied by the AKP government and its parliamentary majority, limiting the sphere of military justice system while enhancing the civilian one is indeed a development which ought to be appreciated.

Yet, when and how something is done is sometimes far more important than what indeed is done. At a time when the military and many people in this country are complaining of a systematic, asymmetrical, psychological campaign aimed at hurting the prestige of the military with the Turkish people; when over a photocopied document, the authenticity of which could not be verified, the military or some senior officers are implicated in a plan aimed at stopping the civilian governing party and an Islamist brotherhood organization nested particularly in the police intelligence; it is only natural for many people to wonder whether this was a democratic reform or there was something else, some other motivation and design behind such a move. That is, most of the problem is a product of a confidence crisis.

Furthermore, the current crisis appears to be product of a well-planned "attention distraction program" the AKP has been implementing. As if there is a coup plot about to be unleashed an artificial discussion is continuing in the country over the Ergenekon probe and case and the recent document which is apparently a fake, while on the one hand the government is doing all it can to stall the Turkish leg of the Lighthouse sham that the German court described as the worst fraud case of recent German history and on the other hand people’s attention was distracted from worsening economic situation, the worst slump of the gdp since 1945.

Still, criminalizing coups can be no remedy to Turkey’s current democratization, corruption or economic woes. Yes, I can guarantee, as the top general has been doing so, that there will not be a coup in Turkey. Will such a guarantee be valid and meaningful and indeed guard us against a coup if with the pretext of democratic reform but, with a majoritarian ambush mentality an asymmetric campaign is continued?