E-memo was not coup, says former top soldier
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Ex-Chief of Staff Büyükanıt (L) testifies before the Parliament’s coup panel. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜRELFormer Chief of General Staff retired Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt said the Turkish Armed Forces’ “e-memorandum” in 2007 was not a threat against democracy in his testimony yesterday at Parliament’s Coup and Memorandum Investigation Commission.
One of the members of the commission, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Istanbul deputy Atilla Kaya, said during his testimony that Büyükanıt did not accept that idea that the e-memorandum only intended to warn the government and that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had also said this earlier.
“Büyükanıt said the memorandum was only a declaration and had nothing to do with the presidential elections. When we asked him what his aims were in penning such a declaration, he said it was not possible to manage [the process] by publishing a declaration,” Kaya told reporters.
The “e-memorandum,” posted on the military’s website around midnight on April 27, 2007, was the first episode in a chain of events that plunged Turkey into political turmoil and forced early elections. In the statement, the army threatened to step in to protect Turkey’s secular system, hours later Parliament held an inconclusive, first-round vote to elect a new president, with the Islamist-rooted Abdullah Gül standing as the sole candidate.
Kaya also said Büyükanıt did not seem regretful and defended the memorandum posted that night by saying it was only an action to emphasize the army’s secular stance. When Kaya was asked if Büyükanıt saw the e-memorandum as an attempt against democracy, he said Büyükanıt’s answer was no and Büyükanıt also reportedly said that Erdoğan had said it was not a memorandum against the ruling Justice
and Development Party (AKP) government. Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Istanbul deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder, who is also a commission member, said Büyükanıt did not give a satisfying answer to questions regarding his meeting with Erdoğan in the prime minister’s Dolmabahçe office in May 4, 2007 after the “e-memorandum” crisis. Erdoğan had said the meeting was going to be kept secret by both sides “until the apocalypse.” The meeting, chaired by the commission’s chairwoman, Nimet Baş was held early on Thursday at the historic Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş district.In the past, Büyükanıt described the Dolmabahçe meeting as “routine.” However, his comment during yesterday’s meeting of the Parliament’s Coups and Military Memorandums Commission was different than the past.
When asked by commission member, CHP deputy Mehmet Şeker “whether the Dolmabahçe meeting was a state secret,” Büyükanıt replied: “I cannot say it is state secret, but I cannot say it is not a state secret either.”
In response to questions on thr April 27 e-memorandum, Büyükanıt said: “April 27 is not a memorandum. It is a text which displays the sensitivity over secularity.” The commission also heard from Turkish Customs Minister Hayati Yazıcı and former State Minister Cavit Çağlar yesterday.