According to Gül, culture of impunity on coups is being overcome

According to Gül, culture of impunity on coups is being overcome

As President Abdullah Gül was flying to Holland for an official visit, he spoke to journalists on the plane about the delicate subject of the investigation launched in Ankara into the Feb. 28 process. 

When the topic is Feb. 28, all attention is turned to what Gül’s stance was at the time and whether he had any responsibility, as he was a state minister in the government of the time. 

The other day, main opposition party Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu claimed that Abdullah Gül’s signature was present in the Feb. 28 decisions. His statement prompted the following explanation from Gül ahead of his departure for Holland: “I was not a member of the National Security Council (MGK). Consequently, I did not sign the MGK decisions of that day. Because these decisions were never brought to the cabinet, my signature was not present there.”

Later, when Gül was reiterating his explanation during his conversation with journalists on the plane, I asked whether the Feb. 28 decisions were discussed in the cabinet. He answered, “I don’t remember.” When I made a reminder that newspaper reports of that day indicated that these decisions were also approved in the cabinet, the President replied, “No, they weren’t.” 

With these words, Gül is strongly rejecting any relations between himself and the Feb. 28 decisions. However, the prime minister of the time, Prof. Necmettin Erbakan, signed the MGK decisions dated Feb. 28, after resisting for three or four days. 
Well, how would Gül evaluate the fact that Erbakan signed those decisions? The President said Erbakan had acted like a child’s mother and wanted to solve issues by going easy and without causing any damage. 

Another interesting fact is that it was Gül who suggested that the Feb. 28 decisions be debated in the parliament: “The Feb. 28 decisions were against the government program. There were issues that were not included in the government program. I said, ‘We would be found guilty in this situation. They have to be debated in parliament.’ But Erbakan wanted to go without causing any damage.” 

Gül also said: “I had assumed that after the liberal environment former President Turgut Özal had created in Turkey there would never again be an interim period. I believed that society would not accept it.” 

The President thinks the “climate” is also a “very significant” factor. “The climate is very important. Within this climate, there are also agitations. I’m sure there are many people now who have regrets.” 

He said coups d’états in Turkey were a result of the impunity culture of previous coups: “When the culture of impunity dominated, then there was no deterrence factor to withhold people from making these mistakes.

These trials should be conducted in a just and precise way. Trials will totally deter these kinds of movements in the future. If they are held accountable after 10, 20 or 30 years, then this is a lesson for everyone; it has a deterrent effect.”

When asked why General Osman Özbek - who had strongly insulted Erbakan at that time - was not being prosecuted, Gül answered, “That is a different story; let me not go into the detail on that.” 

Sedat Ergin is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on April 17. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.