What message has Admiral Güner given by resigning?
One of the top admirals in the Naval Forces, Fleet Commander Adm. Nusret Güner, quit Jan. 22 with a farewell speech to his staff at Gölcük in Kocaeli Province, near Istanbul.
If he had not resigned, Güner was expected to be appointed to the position of Commander of the Turkish Naval Forces that will be vacated by Adm. Murat Bilgel by the end of next August. He resisted all insistence from his superiors to withdraw his resignation, rejecting the highest position a naval officer could desire, as well as the glory and power that would come with it.
Turning down title and position is not a trait found in every person. In practice, counter-examples – in other words, acceptance of certain undesired situations for the sake of position, flexing of principles, or even abandoning of them – are frequently encountered situations in every field of life and every environment where people exist. Güner constitutes an example of just the opposite.
According to what Murat Çelik wrote in daily Vatan, Güner’s resignation letter was dated Sept. 28, 2012, coinciding exactly one week after the court in the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) case reached its verdict, sentencing about 330 defendants on Sept. 12, 2012. However, when the Commander of the Naval Forces did not accept it, Güner’s resignation remained pending. At the end of January, the official acceptance period of resignation/retirement, it became a legal obligation to process the resignation.
Meanwhile, it was understood last week, when the indictment on the second espionage case concerning Naval Forces based in İzmir was announced, there were some claims about the recording of some images of Güner’s daughter in the text. In his farewell speech Jan. 22, Güner made a similar reference. “When I submitted my resignation last September… I reiterated to my commander [Bilgel] that there was a possibility that conspiracies against me could also be organized,” he had said.
In the same speech, Güner said the fact that the last indictment included 75 people from the staff of the Naval Forces “has once more confirmed the reasons in my resignation petition.”
He went on to say, “I should point out to you that I am at peace after having tried to explain to my commanders, to my admirals at every legal platform that this situation the Naval Forces have been put into cannot be coincidental. Now, with the belief that my only responsibility is before history, I am parting from the uniform that I love so dearly.”
The center of gravity in this statement is that he has declared his strong opinion that a huge injustice has been taken against the force the admiral belongs to as fleet commander, and that he has opted to resign to make a point against this injustice.
As a matter of fact, it has been the Naval Forces of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) that have suffered the biggest damage at the court cases opened recently. For example, in the Balyoz case with 365 defendants, the most-populated group is made up of 155 active or retired naval officers.
Moreover, a significant section of the active or retired admirals, officers and noncommissioned officers who have been sentenced from the Naval Forces have been put on the bar and later convicted because their names appeared on some assignment sheets. Part of the contradictions in the evidence has been rejected by the court on grounds that they were created by the defendants.
The Balyoz case has truly hit the Naval Forces like a sledgehammer. In the last 2012 Supreme Military Council (YAŞ), 14 more admirals were forced to retire before the court reached a verdict, just because they were defendants; stripped of their extension or promotion rights. Currently, a total of 13 admirals are under arrest within the scope of Balyoz.
The matter does not come to an end just with Balyoz. Lastly, the first and second espionage cases have been added to the Naval Forces-based cases of the Kafes/Poyrazköy admiral assassination attempts.
The second espionage case especially targets the Naval Forces to a great extent. It seems that the careers of four admirals and several staff officers, even though they were not arrested because they are defendants, will inevitably be affected by the course of this case.
In light of these cases, the Naval Forces have become the scene of serious tremors.
Sedat Ergin is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Feb. 1. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.