E-memo night was ‘nightmare’: Çiçek

E-memo night was ‘nightmare’: Çiçek

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) went through “a nightmare” on the night of April 27, 2007 when the military threatened to step in to protect Turkey’s secular system, but no one hesitated that the warning should be rebuffed, Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek said yesterday.

Çiçek, Justice Minister and government spokesman at the time, was the official who read out the government’s response to the so-called “e-memorandum,” which the military had issued online around midnight.

“Let’s put it openly: it was a very dark night, a nightmare. It was undoubtedly an intervention because Parliament had not done anything wrong,” Çiçek said in an interview on the CNN Türk news channel. He added that the night was spent in intense discussions about what the next step of the army could be.

Turkey would have “speedily regressed toward becoming a third-world country” if the government had not stood firm, Çiçek said.

The military issued the warning after Parliament held an inconclusive, first-round vote to elect a new President, with Abdullah Gül standing as the sole candidate. Several days later, the Constitutional Court ruled that Parliament needed a super-majority quorum of 367 lawmakers to vote for a President. Parliament failed to reach the quorum in subsequent sessions as opposition deputies shunned the vote, effectively blocking the election. The AKP responded by calling early elections, which it won comfortably. The new Parliament elected Gül in August that year.

In its response to the “e-memorandum” on April 28, 2007, the government reasserted commitment to the secular system, but expressed “regret” over “inappropriate remarks” targeting the government. It cautioned the military to be “more careful” and warned of “irreparable” damage to the country. Çiçek said it was up to the judiciary to decide whether the “e-memorandum” should also be the subject of a judicial probe