10 Temmuz 2009
Maybe he won’t please anyone and receive criticism from all directions but under these circumstances, he did the best thing.
To tell the truth, the president did what the administration needed to do. Instead of shooting a last minute goal, he considered possible drawbacks.
He pointed at dispersing the concerns of the military. He did not prolong tension. Even though he still had time he acted fast. He decreased the pace of arguments in society.
The most important reasoning in the president’s approval was the necessity to conform to EU criteria. The military stated that the EU had no expectation in this regard but, on the contrary, what the EU insisted on the most was that the military be under inspection of civilians.
This point was on top of the list of criteria to be realized this year. In the end it would have come before us anyway.
In this respect Gül did the right thing. He caused great relief in Brussels for Turkey, which has not done anything in respect to reforms.
Now the question is: Will the AKP administration listen to Gül’s advice or ignore him just like in the case of the headscarf?
Now we need to look into the future.
The only thing that’s for sure is that the CHP will bring this issue before the Constitutional Court.
They will make the final decision. Inconsistency with the Constitution is so variable from person to person that the best thing to do is to wait for the decision of the Constitutional Court.
The other important question is whether or not the AKP will listen to President Gül. Will it make adjustments by taking the military’s suspicion and concerns into consideration?
Or will it ignore them?
The AKP has a criminal record.
When approving the law for the headscarf, the president gave some advice, but the AKP didn’t care. And with this attitude it made a mistake. If they had listened to Gül, there wouldn’t have been any tension or crises.
Let’s see how it will go this time. It doesn’t matter if Bekir Bozdağ of the AKP said they would pay attention to the president’s warning and make necessary adjustments because the final decisions in the AKP are made by Prime Minister Erdoğan.
This means it all depends on words coming out of the prime minister’s mouth. What ever he says will be done. Despite the leaders of the party saying they will do what is necessary, they will wait for Erdoğan’s decision.
If the prime minister intends to continue the tension with the military, then he won’t make any adjustments or, if he does his changes will not satisfy anyone.
I don’t think the prime minister will take it this far.
The prime minister needs to prevent commanders from being pushed around, and the military needs to accept the increasing civil supervision.
There has been enough tension and the message has been delivered.
For the first time in our Republic’s history Erdoğan’s AKP is the first civil administration that showed the courage to put the Turkish Armed Forces under civil supervision. This by itself is an extremely important political decision.
If he is able to take it further with changes that get drawbacks out of the way then his success will be registered.
No government fights with the military and no government should.
And the military has to assimilate this new period and adapt to changing conditions. Just as the government is obligated to prevent commanders from being pushed around, the military is similarly obligated to give up "putting its foot down."
9 Temmuz 2009
You might even call it a suspicion to the extent of paranoia.
We need not go very far.
During the land mines argument, without a formal identification and without being a candidate for the job, it was talked about making a present for Israel on the border. The weird part is that this was argued all over the country very seriously as if all allegations were true. During the land mines session, Israeli ambassador Gabby Levy, who came to meet with the CHP’s Şahin Mengü over a totally different issue, caused the media to all of a sudden put a headline that read, "Israel besieged parliament."
This was not the case before.
Even if it is not said aloud and openly in this society, people have admired a small country beating the huge Arab world in each war it was involved in and creating a paradise amid the desert.
And during this period Turkey would call the Palestinian rebels "terrorists," just like the Americans did. Israel’s intervention in terror events were also seen favorably back then. Even Israel occupying Lebanon, or sending Palestinians into exile would not have attracted that much attention.
But the situation changed within one or two years.
I researched the reason and found the following basic data:
The reflection of reactions from the international public in the Turkish media against Israel’s brisk and stiff treatment of Palestinians. The spreading of images via TV of especially the ferocious intervention during the recent Gaza operation, that caused people’s deep reaction and a feeling of "that’s enough now." The incredible increase of books and articles or TV shows in Turkey regarding Sabataizm and all conspiracy theories including either this group or Israel indirectly. Nationalists in all international events and the pious in respect to religion spoiled the image of Israel. Despite the fact that the AKP does not take on a negative attitude toward Israel, on the contrary the prime minister shows special sensitivity, local administrations are not able to avoid taking on an anti-Israel attitude, which stirs from their roots in the national view and is deep in their genes. the impact of the "one minute" argument between our prime minister and Israeli President Peres in Davos.
Of course this list may be prolonged but this is a general outline.
So what will happen now?
Turkey’s benefits require close relations with Israel
There is some good in being concerned about it, for if we continue like this, Jewish citizens will be affected by the negative atmosphere and a process of abandoning Turkey will start. Even now speaking to Jewish friends you can feel their unease.
They say, "You still perceive us as the others." They never used to show such reaction before. They have started to talk about an estranging environment.
Turkey for the sake of long-term benefits needs to keep good relations with Israel and embrace its Jewish citizens.
Changing the course of things depends on governments in Turkey as well as on Israel’s attitude, meaning that not everything depends on us.
As long as Israel continues its approach to Palestine it won’t be able to fix its image that persists everywhere in the world. Basically, Israel needs to take important steps. Israel will pushed into a more difficult position with each passing day if it exercises politics that repeat what happened in Gaza, or if it enlarges its territory, or if it does not acknowledge Palestinian rights, or if it decreases Palestinian territory.
Governments ruling Turkey need to see how dangerous this course for them. The prime minister, as the sole determiner of politics needs to make symbolic gestures to win the hearts of Jewish citizens and stay away from brisk reactions. Turkey and Israel are both secular and democratic countries in the region. They are obligated to appreciate each other’s suggestions and live together without hurting each other.
8 Temmuz 2009
Everybody, every institution is two-faced.
One face is the one reflected on the outside and the other the real one.
One is very bright, nice, civilized, kind; the other is ugly, jealous, grim.
The Turkish Republic is also two-faced.
When making its own propaganda the Turkish Republic compares itself to a compassionate mother.
Like a mother watching over its children. A mother who does the best to contribute to their growth. A mother who does not distinguish between one and the other.
But the reality is different.
But to our regret the state’s real face is very grim. We make up the state. Bureaucrats acting on behalf of the state, politicians making decisions and applying them are the law enforcement officers.
The state is similar to a jealous guardian. It behaves like a guardian who is peremptory, who beats people when angry and who instead of helping people despises them. The state always talks about "the law." It likes to be defined as the "state of law." Whereas it only uses the law when it suits itself.
Let me give one or two examples.
You know the adventures of Cıngıllıoğlu. I am talking about Halit Cıngıllıoğlu who trusted the state and filled his safe with government bonds. When he was short of cash the state did not pay his money and said, "Did I reassure you?" He then went bankrupt and lost Denizbank.
Then there is Mehmet Emin Karamehmet.
Imagine yourself as a businessman. You make a decision and carry it out. Years pass and nobody says anything. Then after nine years a law passes and the lawmaker says, "I will also apply this law retrospectively."
Meaning the rules of the game change after the game is over.
In a country where laws can be changed like this, who can trust the future? How can a person that does not know what kind of problems he will face in the future take on responsibility? The same thing happened to Çukurova. Çukurova Group sold Interbank to the Çağlar Group in 1996. Then after 12 years the TMSF says that in this transaction there was fraud on part of Çukurova Group. Why? Because Çukurova Group issued a credit to Çağlar before the sale of Interbank. The TMSF claims that Çağlar, in order to buy the bank, took a loan from the same bank. Thus it claims that Çukurova emptied its own bank in an indirect way.
But there are two important points to it.
The first point is that authorities of the Turkish Republic knew about Interbank’s sale and issuance of credit at Interbank. This huge bank was not sold secretly. It is impossible to realize sales without the necessary formal permission. So, if there is a crime then why didn’t anybody interfere?
The second important point is that during the period of the sale according to laws in the Turkish Republic, the statute of limitations for crimes pertaining to banking transactions was one year.
But nine years later the state says, "No, buddy, I’ll change the law and also apply it to the past."
When does this change take place? Nov. 1, 2005. And not enough with that. After this change in law took place the TMSF keeps quiet. It did not accuse Çukurova Group in this respect for about a period of three years. On Jan. 7, 1999, Interbank then owned by Çağlar was transferred to the state owned fund. Meaning that three and a half years after Çukurova Group sold the bank, it was transferred to the state.
The state knew about all transactions within the bank but did not take any action.
So when did the TMSF take action? In May 2008. Here is the problem: If this transaction were a crime, then why didn’t anyone take action in 1999? Let’s say nobody took any action back then and the rules of the game were changed illegally and statute of limitations was increased to 20 years with retrospective ability, why didn’t anyone still take action?
I could give countless examples like these.
Some pertaining to trade, some to politics.
The worst part is we can’t call the state to account. Since the "state of law" is only an expression, those acting on behalf of the sate can behave as boorishly as they want.
And if we add to that the habit of perceiving every rich person as a thief and enemy, the expression "this is the state, it beats you or loves you as it pleases" becomes somewhat tolerable. But what a pity this boorishness can be seen in every part of society. Those who don’t consider the possibility that what happened to others today may happen to them applaud the state, sometimes out of fear and sometimes out of envy. Of course, only as long as they encounter the same situation.
After I realized this, I didn’t believe in "mother state" stories anymore.
7 Temmuz 2009
But what a pity that this change in law, baring a revolutionary value, was made hastily, which has caused an adverse reaction in public. It was perceived as if it was planned to hit the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, below the belt.
If only it would have gone through the normal procedure.
If it would have passed commissions or would have asked for different views and then became legitimate, then there wouldn’t have been an increase in mistrust between the TSK and the government.
If the change in law is realized without any drawbacks it would be a revolution. For now it is an unfinished deed. Why does the AKP persist on immunity? Because it does not trust the jurisdiction and is afraid prosecutors will take action based on nonsensical and political reasons.
Among the reasoning of the General Staff, the one that gives me a headache the most is the part when it says that trying military personnel before a civil court means "politics will enter the military."
The reasoning put forth and AKP’s resistance on the subject of immunity for congressmen is based on almost the same concern. The AKP first was very sensitive about immunity.
It came to power saying that immunity in the case of crimes like embezzlement, abuse and insult should be lifted.
Then it changed...
The reason is because they don’t trust the judiciary. The AKP got scared because prosecutors have adopted a habit of passing the ball to the courts without examining even simple cases carefully or sufficiently.
And they are not wrong in being scared. In a country this solidified in opposition and where personal vendetta is perceived as "politics," prosecutors unfortunately cannot perform their duty of only filtering important things.
You can rest assured that as soon as immunity is lifted a hunt for congressmen based on political reasons, lies or even conspiracy games will boom and every application will be passed on to courts before they are pre-examined.
As long as our prosecutors are not properly trained and required to pre-examine, to play the role of the filter, then nobody can lift immunity.
It’s a pity that disbelief in justice is this widespread. The military’s objection is based on the same reason. The military worries that civil prosecutors will accept each case coming before them whether it be bad intentions or based on conspiracy. The content of the basic approach in the military objection to the bill is similar to the AKP approach: Disbelief in justiceÉ
This is a valid objection.
I’m thinking about what will happen and I agree with the General Staff.
Some person who gets mad at the military, or whose benefits are destroyed, or who wants to take revenge against the TSK would, with insufficient data, apply to the prosecutors. And if today’s administration persists, each application will be passed to the courts.
To that we need to add the Chief of General Staff. And the Chief of General Staff Ñ if no precaution is taken Ñ will be open to the justice trap. If looked upon in this way, we have no choice but to veto Gül’s civil court bill.
It is only natural that the president wants to add buffers to a bill that could create such deep issues before confirming it in order to prevent attempts of bad intention.
But what we need to underscore here is the justice reform. As long as justice reform cannot be realized and this country is not placed on stable ground, artificial precautions won’t do any good.
As long as all people, institutions and politicians are managed according to their view, then we cannot reorganize the state. The European Union does not say "you need to realize a justice reform" for nothing. They already see what we long to see.
The rest is just verbiage.
3 Temmuz 2009
I believe the TSK is the most important and trustworthy institution in our country. I keep repeating, since we cannot replace it with another security force, we need to cherish it. Besides, I witnessed that this institution is better in operation than any other institution when it comes to education, discipline and seriousness.
And beside all this, recently I criticized all commanders and civilians who contaminated this institution with politics. Those who pushed the TSK into politics believe that they have done it in order to protect and watch over it, using their legal authority to put democracy on the right track.
I criticized the TSK very much because of their recent attitude and interference in politics. But I also saw that part of the responsibility belongs to the civil administration that was unable to say "no." And I always took a stand against this attitude. The TSK in recent history has influenced this country’s basic politics and mostly took place above the civil administration but took on an attitude of preventing or delaying a solution. I do not entirely hold the military responsible for the development coming this far. I agree with retired Gen. Atilla Kıyat that we’ve come this far because civilians and especially the civil administration have never said "no" to any approach from the TSK, on the contrary welcomed it.
It seemed that people got used to the TSK’s attitude, which has made its mark in history but certain events changed everything.
2 Temmuz 2009
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.
1 Temmuz 2009
A bill that leaves the military and justice disabled in regards to crimes committed against order and crimes like coups, junta, terror, gangs and alike that need to be investigated and prosecuted. In summary, a way has been paved that allows for military personnel involved in such crimes to be tried in a civil court and Parliament passing this bill is very important.
Turkey for the first time has openly put forth that coup or junta type attempts will be taken to a court of law. We are experiencing this type of development for the first time in recent history. For the first time, a civil administration is rebelling against the military and is taking action.
No matter from which angle or how you look at it, we see that a civil administration in Turkey is rebelling against the authority of the military. If we leave aside the way this bill passed Parliament and arguments thereof, if we look to the heart of this, we see how important this bill is for the country’s future political life.
According to the new bill, whatever the crime may be, civilians will no longer be tried in military courts. The important change has been made to paragraph 250/3 of the criminal court law. Accordingly, military personnel in times of peace committing a crime that falls under the authority of the court established as per paragraph 250, a trial will be provided by these courts of law. This also encompasses coup attempts or any other attempts trying to prevent the government or Parliament from performing their duties. The truth of the matter is that the authority to investigate junta or coup attempts rests on civilian prosecutors.
We need not interpret this bill as if the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, is waiting for an opportunity and won’t take any action. I know that the TSK is not after a coup and is aware that even if it wants to, the period for coups has passed. Nevertheless, this bill has started to apply an extremely important moral pressure. A step has been taken no other civil administration thought about or even had the courage to take. But we also shouldn’t see this bill as an enemy of the military. We are entering a period in which natural and international rule has been applied in Turkey and a balance in the relationship between the military and the civil administration in favor of civil administrations has been struck. A step that as the source of all former interventions introduced a new period that will also lead to a change in the Internal Service Act of the TSK. That’s why this last bill is of vital importance.
Why is the CHP against it?
The CHP was not able to explain to society why it opposed the bill regarding the trial of military personnel involved in crimes of intervention in politics in civil courts.
The general perception is that CHP deputies, while voting last Thursday night, "skipped" while an amendment was made or as the prime minister said, "they slept." If they had been alert, they’d at least have objected. Their complaints - "they have staged a coup, we were deceived" - do not quite satisfy the public. To be more precise, CHP spokespeople were not quite convincing in their statements. On the contrary, the AKP’s statements were more trustworthy, despite the fact that such a bill was passed after midnight and hastily. This objection can be read only as the CHP’s carelessness. It becomes widespread with each passing day that there is some clumsiness involved on the part of the CHP regarding the act of voting for the bill.
The CHP does not say it aloud but it is not in favor of military personnel being tried by a civil court, but it is unable to explain why.
Then there is an aspect regarding the contents of the bill, which brings this question to mind: Does the CHP oppose military personnel being tried before a civil court no matter what this person does?
The CHP does not want to say it aloud but its attitude is along the lines of "I won’t victimize military personnel to civilians." The same CHP fought in 1961 during the preparation of the Constitution to "have the General Staff report to the prime minister instead of to the Minister of Defense." Members of the CHP probably don’t want the status quo to change because they don’t believe in civil justice or because of the possibility that civil justice could be under the influence of the AKP.
But this attitude only reveals a continuation of a traditional loving bond between the TSK and the CHP.
Or it is interpreted this way because they are unable to explain this in a proper way. Under these circumstances the only thing the CHP evokes with its attitude is affection, a CHP that wants to try pro-coup people from 29 years ago by eliminating temporary paragraph 15 in the Constitution.
30 Haziran 2009
With Özal coming to power a "power struggle" between civilians and the military had started. The discussion was public: Who was to be more powerful, more effective, more outstanding? Was it those elected by people or those desired by the appointed military-civilian coalition?
Who was to speak the last word, the military or the civilian administration?
Özal did not bother the military. Instead of disagreeing with them he pulled them onto his side. He did not allow them to cross certain boundaries. For example, during Gen. Öztorun’s appointment to the Land Forces Command, Özal interfered in matters of the General Staff and limited its authority in appointments.
After Özal, the General Staff became stronger, especially during fights between Çiller and Yılmaz, and during the coalition between Çiller and Erbakan. The limitations implemented by Özal were lifted. The Feb. 28 interventions were the date of the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK’s, establishment of crushing weight on civil administrations.
The Fethullah Gülen movement was driven into a corner and Gülen was forced to leave for the United States because of health problems. Political parties Refah and Fazilet lead by Erbakan were closed. The "National View" lived through its historical split and old accounts were settled by stripping off the "old clothes" to give birth to the AKP.
The period of taking the military under control started with Özal in 1983, and revived with Erdoğan coming to power in 2002.
The AKP coming to power after general elections in 2002 inflamed the fight between the military and civilian anew. This time they entered an obvious "power fight." For, Erdoğan was different. He is not as flexible as Özal. We all remember what we have experienced since 2002.
Coup preparations, presidential elections, attempts to close the AKP, the April 27 memorandum and the increase of AKP votes to 47 percent during elections in 2007, breaking a record. Within this period the Fethullah Gülen movement got itself together, got organized and became strong once more.
And the AKP became rich in a ratio no party ever had seen and obtained power in media never seen before.
On one side Republic meetings, on the other side the Ergenekon investigation and in return the Lighthouse case. The civil administration and the TSK drew their swords. To sweep conspiracies under the carpet both parties started to hit each other below the beltline.
In the period of 2006-2008 the AKP was saved from hanging. Now it has become stronger and calls the past to account, he is after revenge. The AKP has quite quickly gotten over the shock created by the danger of being closed and in 2008-2009 it has completely taken on an attitude of settling of accounts, to be more precise of taking revenge. It addressed the bill of events experienced in 2006-2008 to the TSK. And during this campaign it was not alone.
It was greatly supported by the Fethullah Gülen movement.
Three different elements contributed to the campaign’s power:
- the AKP and Gülen media carried out extremely effective publishing politics...
- the Doğan Group being under the government’s pressure and discouraging it...
- the European Union and United States, contrary to the Cold War, not supporting the military...
These are the impressions of what we experienced viewed from the outside, to be more precise, from the public.
Maybe intentions and purposes are very different but our picture of what we see is a "settling of accounts." It is understood that this settling of accounts won’t end easily. The AKP does not want to let go of this opportunity that it has obtained.
It is not sure where and when this escalation will end.
The AKP obtained an opportunity. It does not matter whether or not it is authenticÉ be it a conspiracy, or originate from the General Staff, it looks like it won’t let go of this "piece of paper" easily and will take it as far as it can.
And the opposition stirs the fire to crash the AKP’s image of "the military always beats us" by provoking the government.
"Let’s see you change the General Staff, you are authorized." The military experiences increasing difficulties because it keeps repeating itself but does not get beyond defending the institution against "smear campaigns."
No party intends to change its position. Nobody gives in.
Escalation continues like that.
The civil administration breaks the military’s arm and calculates how to eliminate its effectiveness.
The military fights in order not to lose its power. Whoever stands up to this process will win. Actually what scares me the most is the increased possibility for accidents on this road. I wonder if it will be settled by the National Security Council, or MGK, today or whether this struggle will be put on hold for some time. This is very important from the view of the MGK.