ANKARA - Turkey’s military said on Friday that the top general’s comments about "the people of Turkey" should not be misconstrued to mean he supports the concept of a multinational Turkey. The military’s statement came three days after Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ said the founder of the Republic preferred to describe the nation's people as "the people of Turkey" instead of "Turkish people," while explaining that the country was not based on a single ethnic group.
The statement read that reaching the conclusion that the concept of "the people of Turkey" meant a "multinational Turkey" would distort the meaning. "ÉSuch assessments show the failure to understand why Atatürk had used the definition of ’people of Turkey’ and the meaning of ’the nation-state,’" the statement read. "É Such thoughts have no place in the nation-state structure."
Başbuğ’s statements were considered groundbreaking thoughts and a new state policy toward Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin. In his speech Başbuğ said:
"Let’s remember what Atatürk said: ’It’s the people of Turkey who founded the Republic of Turkey.’ If you say, ’Turkish people’ the whole meaning will fade away. Who founded the Republic of Turkey? The people of Turkey. Atatürk is pointing at all parts of the nation. No ethnic and religious distinction. If he had used the word ’Turk’ instead of the people of Turkey, then it would be an ethnic definition."
Meanwhile, a military spokesperson announced Friday that Başbuğ would meet with the representatives of the media on April 29 to discuss current issues such as the alleged Ergenekon gang. Military spokesperson Brig. Metin Gürak said in his weekly press briefing that Başbuğ’s program had to be rescheduled because of other events he had to participate in. The meeting will be held just a day after the National Security Council, or MGK, meeting, where the military’s demand to amend the current Penitence Law to allow more terrorists to benefit from and leave the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, is set to be discussed.