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Lale Kemal _ EU report on Ergenekon: slap in the face for skeptics
LALE KEMAL Columnists Today's zamanþ
EU report on Ergenekon: slap in the face for skeptics
Many Turks may have an excuse for their rather bizarre stance in the face of the ongoing bitter debate over the disclosure of many classified documents prepared within the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), revealing decades-long smear campaigns on certain segments of society and coups planned to unseat democratically elected governments. Turkish society is deeply polarized over whether the TSK has been facing a plot initiated by the ruling authority.

The main underlying reason for this polarization is the indoctrination of society, for about 100 years, beginning with one of the phases of Ottoman modernization initiated by the military in 1908, acting on the perception that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), and some other institutions, mainly the judiciary, composed of appointed bureaucrats, have the right to intervene in politics and poke their noses into every civilian affair. As a result, Turkish society has internalized almost five different sorts of military intervention into politics, prompting the suspension of democracy since the 1960 military coup, to such a degree that it now does not want to believe the TSK could be involved in nasty and unconstitutional acts, such as smear campaigns against those critical of the military and other bureaucrats, as well as plotting coups.

Despite Turkish society’s above-mentioned mind set, it is worth noting that Turkey has already reached the point where it has been openly discussing almost all its taboo issues. This is a positive step. What amazes me is the reaction of some Western capitals, their media and their representatives in Ankara. They sometimes see themselves in a position to defend the illegal acts of deep state groups, such as Ergenekon, while behaving like an advocate of those members of the military who are allegedly involved in illegal acts, such as plans to overthrow the democratically elected government.

Whereas in their countries, a top commander, for example, making political remarks, will be removed from his post, as has been the case lately in Greece and in Spain. In their countries, the armed forces are directly responsible to the civilian-elected defense ministers while their duties are limited to military affairs alone acting in line with the policies set forth by civilian rule.

When it comes to Turkey, those Western groups take their democratic clothes off and put on undemocratic, anachronistic suits and begin defending the illegal acts of the deep state. They behave selfishly, believing that they deserve democracy but not the Turks, as if Turkey is a Banana Republic.

Though many taboo issues have begun to be debated under the Islam-sensitive ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which has initiated several democratic military and civilian reforms, some Western observers, coming under the influence of so-called Turkish elites skeptical of the motives of the ruling party, find themselves in a position to defend the illegal deep state activities. But this is not a valid excuse for those observers. They have to defend democracy in Turkey, too. I advise those Western observers, whether they are members of the media, diplomats or military attachés, to read the European Union’s latest report on Turkey published on Oct. 14.

The relevant part of the EU’s report, under the heading of “Democracy and the rule of law,” says: “Investigations into the alleged criminal network Ergenekon continued. Charges include attempting to overthrow the government and to instigate armed riots. Ammunition and weapons were discovered in the course of the investigation. A first trial, which started in October 2008, is ongoing. A second indictment, covering 56 suspects including three retired generals and a former commander of the gendarmerie, was submitted to court in March 2009. A third indictment covering 52 suspects was presented to the Court in July. The cases concerning these two indictments are discussed in one single trial, which started in July 2009 and is ongoing. This is the first case in Turkey to probe into a coup attempt and the most extensive investigation ever on an alleged criminal network aiming at destabilizing the democratic institutions.

Furthermore, for the first time a former chief of staff testified voluntarily as a witness. Concerns have been raised about effective judicial guarantees for all the suspects.”

The EU Commission has finally realized that the deep state is a serious problem in this country. I advise those Western groups, too, to read Turkey correctly.
05 November 2009, Thursday


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