Rather than resenting the governor, change this strange ritual

Rather than resenting the governor, change this strange ritual

I’m watching with astonishment the reactions of the media and especially the government. The echoes of the incident in which Afyon Governor presented gifts to the chief of General Staff, and the general gave a plaque to the governor, one day after the recent disaster, still continue.

Believe it or not, I feel sorry for the governor. Everyone has struck a blow at him. Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç was cross at him, and so was deputy head of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Hüseyin Çelik. The prime minister also blew up at him, almost ending his career.

What did he do wrong? He continued a ritual that had started many years before he took office. It was bizarre, but it was customary.

If a minister or other top-level bureaucrat visits, he is surely presented with gifts. The Afyon governor has seen such images since his childhood. Then one day, the chief of General Staff, who is no different from a president or a prime minister in the eyes of a bureaucrat came to his city, and what else could he do, poor guy? He gave the general presents, and the general gave him a plaque.

Until that day, no one had ever stood up to say, “What is this exchange of gifts? Why do you always give each other plaques?”

The only mistake the governor’s office made was that none of the aides around him said, “Sir, let’s not put these photos on the official website; there could be an adverse reaction on a day when 25 people died.”

He victimized himself and he also harmed the chief of General Staff.

But, don’t worry, the same practice will continue. This plaque exchanging, which looks like a scene from an elementary school play, will not end. Let’s give up this practice altogether.

Sept. 12 was the mother of all coups
If we are still talking about a coup d’état that happened 32 years ago, and still discussing its effects, that means there are wheels within wheels.

I was in Brussels on Sept. 12, 1980. I was the Europe bureau chief of daily Milliyet at the time. The phone rang in the early hours of the morning. It was our permanent representative in NATO, Osman Olcay.

“Finally, a coup has taken place, the military has taken over,” he said and hung up. An ambassador was saying, “Finally.” I also told myself, “Oh, finally.” I was relaxed. There was general relaxation in the country.

At that time, no one knew what major catastrophes Sept. 12 would bring in the future. Murders were claiming 25 lives each day, and there were fights between the right and the left. The economy had collapsed, and the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Justice Party (AP) were at each others’ throat. Desperate times called for desperate measures.

Everyone applauded; renowned journalists were patting the military on the back. Many businessmen and institutions, calling themselves democrats, jumped for joy.

The General Staff, feeling this energy, changed Turkey dramatically. With its tortures, bans, executions, it imprisoned minds.

I can see today when I look back how the mentality of the Sept. 12 destroyed the political and social life of the country. I cannot forgive myself for not having been able to see this from those days and not having opposed it from the first moment.

The Sept. 12 Constitution left us the Kurdish issue and the headscarf issue. The Sept. 12 Constitution clipped the wings of our democracy, pulled the military into politics and distorted our equilibrium.

That is why Sept. 12 was the mother of all coups d’états.