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Military did not put its fist on the table

In Turkey a "balance tuning" is being made in the relationship between the civilian administration and the military that started on April 27, 2007. If we were to look at former applications you’ll see how important this event is and how balances continuously change. There is no need to go way back to former times. Let’s remember how the latest coalition was scolded at although they had no problem with the military.

Former Prime Minister Mesut Yılmaz once reacted to criticism from former Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Bir in Tbilisi. Bir said, "In the struggle against political reaction there is not enough effort spent." Yılmaz’s response was that beneath this criticism lies the desire to prolong Chief of Staff Karadayı’s term, and all hell broke lose. With a mutual statement from chief of staff and commanders in chief of armed forces they scolded the prime minister. All civil administration and military relations developed like this. Daily operations are the government’s job, the military represents the state, the government oversees it, protects border lines and is held responsible for the country’s long term benefits.

This accustomed attitude has for the first time been spoiled by the AKP that came to power in 2002. The "balance tuning" for the first time bloomed with the Cyprus issue and difference of opinion in relations with the EU and formally started on April 27, 2007. The Turkish Armed Forces did not want Gül for president and criticized the AKP in a harsh way and didn’t want votes to go to the DTP. Election results in July 2007 and events that followed proved the opposite of what the TSK intended. Developments recently added insult to injury in "balance tuning."

The general perception of the public is along the lines that the military does not act like it did before. The chief of General Staff does not go beyond stating his view.

He does not go beyond the law. And openly says that it is the security for a democratic process. In view of this attitude some of us might say, "The military understood that it can’t put its fist on the table and backed off." Gen. Başbuğ is doing the right thing. He does not put his fist on the table. He does not drag the country into a havoc.

I view it differently.

The military has an extremely realistic attitude. It sees that amid the internal and external conditions we are living in and with a government headed by Erdoğan it is very dangerous and unnecessary to put one’s fist on the table or take on former attitudes.

In summary, Gen. Başbuğ does the right thing. He does not draw his sword or put his fist on the table. He contents himself with stating his view. This attitude may or may not be liked by others but with this attitude he drags neither the institution nor the country into a havoc.



Civil administration stands tallÉ

The above article (the military’s reaction to Mesut Yılmaz) is only an example of how the military scolded the government and it did not touch on how the civil administration reacted to that.

You’ll remember, former Prime Minister Yılmaz talking to journalists who joined him on his Tbilisi trip about the desire of the military to extend terms. As far as I remember Yalçın Doğan, Muharrem Sarıkaya and I were present. When upon publication of our articles the chief of General Staff and chiefs of armed forces in return published a brisk statement, all eyes were turned to the civil administration, especially to Mesut Yılmaz who was the target. If Yılmaz was to administer the government by himself he would have behaved differently but upon the brisk statement by the military the prime minister backed off. He said he was misunderstood, that journalists who accompanied him (and especially me) reflected his words differently. He blamed us and took a step back.

He did not stand tall.

If we were to look at recent developments, we could say that just as the military reacts more realistically according to current conditions, the civil administration exhibits the same amount of changed attitude.

Even if the AKP’s standing aloof from the TSK surfaced during Cyprus’s full membership in the EU venture in the 2003-2004 period, the real "balance tuning" started with reaction to the brisk statement of April 27, 2007. Then it continued open declarations in succession. Each criticism from the TSK was answered by the prime minister, the military’s image in public was shaken by the 2003-2004 coup diaries and the Ergenekon case and we have come as far as a change in the law that allows for a trial of military personnel in civil courts, and alleged military plans to topple the government.

In old times on a scale regarding Turkey’s administration, the military would outweigh it. Today this scale is gradually balancing out.

The AKP tries to tune this balance in a boorish and hasty way. Instead of fine tuning it takes steps from time to time without much consideration, pulling the string tighter.

But it is very determined.

It doesn’t look as if this struggle is going to end anytime soon. These events will surely attract reaction from the TSK and those in favor of the military but whatever happens we should not expect former balances to come back into place.
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