Coups undermined Turkey’s political, economic growth: Presidential spokesperson
In an interview with state-run Anadolu Agency, on the anniversary of the Feb. 28, 1997 coup against former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan’s government, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın spoke about all facets of the country’s checkered history of military rule, its impact on Turkey’s present, and the efforts to forge a brighter future.
When asked about the military coup of Feb. 28, Kalın said it was "an assault on democracy" and the public's will by "advocates of the tutelary regime."
"Like other coups in Turkey, it was executed by a mindset that advocated the suspension of democracy and ignoring the people’s will," he said.
"Unfortunately, the history of democracy in Turkey is stained; Turkey has experienced coups, in different forms, in almost every decade – in 1960, 1971, 1980, 1997, 2007, and the last on July 15, 2016, he added.
Kalın also underlined that every coup in Turkey "undermined" the country by "deterring its economic and political progress.
"The fortunate thing is that the Turkish nation responded strongly to these coups, expressing its own power and wisdom," he said.
"Remember, some leaders of the Feb. 28 coup had claimed that it 'will last for 1,000 years.' Nevertheless, the nation sent them packing in a short time; just five years later, in 2002, the Justice and Development Party came to power through popular elections," he added.
Presidential system eliminates risk of coups
On whether the shift to the executive presidential system eliminated the risk of coups in Turkey, Kalın said one of the primary motivations for such a system was "removing structures that promoted a tutelary regime."
"I believe we have attained this goal, which I see as a vital achievement for Turkish democracy. Secondly, through the presidential system, we have protected the civil and elected administration," Kalın said.
"The narrative trumpeted by supporters of military coups was that the inability of civilians to properly govern the country caused political and economic crises. By introducing an efficient mode of governance, we took away this excuse. Therefore, this new system blocks the possibility of tutelary regimes," he said.
Media 'failed' during Feb 28 coup
When asked about the role the media played during the coup of Feb. 28, the presidential spokesperson said the Turkish media "failed this test as it did in the past."
"They supported and aggrandized the organizers and executers of the coup. However, this was nothing new; this was exactly how the media acted after the coup on May 27, 1960," Kalın said.
"Similarly, it was the media’s provocative attitude and incessant scapegoating of politicians that proved pivotal in the developments leading to the military coup in 1980," he added.
Kalın said that in 1997, the media aligned with different interest groups and "took part in immensely unfair attacks on certain segments of Turkish society."
"The media also specifically targeted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was jailed at the time just for reading out a poem. As such, that period constitutes one of the darkest chapters in the history of Turkey’s media," he said.
'New constitution an opportunity'
Regarding talks of a new constitution in Turkey, Kalın said its purpose is to give the citizens "what they deserve in the 21st Century."
"Our current constitution was drafted in 1982. It has been amended many times, and many changes and regulations have been made; it has lost its coherence and integrity," he said
"The Turkish nation deserves a better constitution. The parliament is the right place for this endeavor; it has our political parties and the representatives of the nation. Our president has stressed that the process of drafting a new constitution must have the participation of all parties. This is actually a very important and historic opportunity," he added.