What is the name of our state?

What is the name of our state?

I know this is an absurd question. The name of our state in all official documents here and abroad is the “Republic of Turkey.” Well then, why such a question; why such a title? 

Let me explain. 

While he was delivering his Aug. 30 Victory Day message, our new Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar said some interesting things which drew my attention. 

In his speech, he used the word “Turkish” in 14 different places. He selected noun and adjective phrases such as Turkish history, Turkish land, Turkish state, Turkish army, Turkish army officer, Turkish nation, Turkish revolution, Turkish Armed Forces, Turkish Armed Forces Day. 

In his definition of “Turkish land,” he said, “With the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, it was confirmed that Anatolia had become a Turkish land.” This is a very powerful statement. 

His definition of the Turkish state was the most noteworthy phrase. Gen. Akar in his speech said Turkish Republic. 

I looked up the constitutional text on the official website of the Turkish Parliament. The official phrase in there was this: “ the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey.”

I am the first person to write, when the resolution process started, that the word “Turkish” will not be ripped out of our daily language and that the “Turkish sensitivity” should be taken into account. 

The curses and the swear words I received in one week from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of the period and from the liberals included these words: Racist, fascist, separatist, Hitler, Nazi, spit on your face, superficial, hallow, clown and bastard… 

As the person who endured all those criticisms that day, I am now writing the following: In our system, in two very important places, it is “Turkey” that is written, not “Turkish.” One is the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (the parliament) and the other, “the Republic of Turkey.” And this is absolutely right. 

That’s why it drew my attention. With this expression in his Victory Day speech, was he making a certain implication or was it just a random selection of words? 

I guess I am one of the people in this country who can ask this question in the most unreserved manner. Moreover, in the logo of the paper I am proud to work for, it is still written “Turkey belongs to Turks.”   

Are we at war? 

There is another phrase that attracted my attention in Gen. Akar’s speech. He said exactly this: “As the son of a nation that has created this masterpiece, as the commander-in-chief of its army, my happiness and content are endless.” 

I was confused. I looked up the constitution again. In its 117th article, it said, “The Office of the Commander-in-Chief is inseparable from the spiritual existence of the Turkish Grand National Assembly and is represented by the President of the Republic.”

Well, what about the Chief of General Staff? That position is defined as such: “The Chief of the General Staff is the commander of the Armed Forces, and, in time of war, exercises the duties of Commander-in-Chief on behalf of the President of the Republic.”  

Now, how do we evaluate the “commander-in-chief” expression used in the Victory Day message?

Are we in an undeclared, de facto war and has the commander-in-chief position been transferred to the Chief of General Staff?  

The ‘two drunkards’ 

The Victory Day speech of the Chief of General Staff was also interesting from another point of view. The speech rehabilitated openly two people who were denigrated as “two drunkards” as recently as last year.

In three references of the short speech, the grandness of Atatürk and the gratitude felt for him were expressed.  He also said, “The architect of this unprecedented victory, our eternal chief commander Gazi Mustafa Atatürk.” 

It was only last year that the political powerful tried to denigrate him as “two drunkards.” In this speech, Atatürk is also referred to as a torch opening the way of modernization for our nation, the one who made the political, legal, economic and social reforms required by the modern era…” 

However you slice it, I think this was one of the most interesting and strongest Victory Day messages of the past years…

In the Aug 31 edition of the Hürriyet Daily News, columnist Ertuğrul Özkök acknowledged responsibility for attributing a quote to Chief of General Staff Gen Hulusi Akar that actually belonged to modern Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The author apologizes for the error.