Don’t dare to bash army for not staging coup: Turkish prime minister
Turkey’s President Gül (2nd R) shakes hands with Chief of Staff Gen Özel (R) as PM Erdoğan and other top figures watch. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZCriticism of the army for not staging a coup is a sign of helplessness and a reflection of the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) despotic democratic understanding, according to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The prime minister also accused intellectuals of targeting the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).
“Describing the army as ‘unarmed forces’ or a ‘paper tiger’; swearing at its commander because they are not staging a coup, of not interfering into democracy and the national will has nothing to do with democracy and the universal rule of law,” Erdoğan said at his party’s meeting in the southeastern town of Kahramanmaraş. “This is the mentality of the CHP and its product of despotic, half-portion intellectuals, something I’ve been trying to expose for years,” he said.
Erdoğan’s statement came as support for Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, who issued a harsh statement on May 3 criticizing some journalists and civil society representatives for trying to provoke the army. Özel met with Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül and expressed the army’s uneasiness about growing public criticism against the army. Critics, mostly from staunchly secular circles, blame the current military echelon for ignoring its duty to protect the country’s secular and republican values.
“Those who are severely disturbed by democratization and democracy, who can no longer benefit from the status quo, have now started an affront [against the army] as they cannot provoke it,” Erdoğan said. According to Erdoğan the same circles who swear at the army now have tried to call on the TSK to stage a coup in recent years. “These insults against the Turkish Armed Forces and its honorable members are immoral, impudent and presumptuous.”
The prime minister vowed to continue forward with the way the ruling party has designed to strengthen Turkey through its civilian population, stressing that no force would be able to prevent them from doing so. “Even though we received 50 percent of votes in elections, we are working for 100 percent of the Turkish people. The Justice and Development Party is the party of 75 million,” he said.
The army said in a statement Tuesday that it was “watching in sorrow as provocative statements outside constructive boundaries target members of the armed forces in order to curb their motivation.”