Politicians asked army’s help: Ex-chief

Politicians asked army’s help: Ex-chief

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Politicians asked army’s help: Ex-chief

There is no Gladio in Turkey, Özkök says, but there was the Special Warfare Department, which was not equivalent to Gladio. DHA photo

Former Chief of General Staff Ret. Gen. Hilmi Özkök said yesterday that there had been no “Gladio”-type organization in Turkey, and also said politicians had sought help from the military in the past, while answering questions from members of Parliament’s Coups and Military Memorandums Inquiry Commission.

Politicians play the most important role in stopping coups, and there will be no need for intervention once democracy takes hold in the country, Özkök said, adding that in Turkey the people expect the army to do something once they lose confidence in politicians. There is no Gladio in Turkey, Özkök said, but there was the Special Warfare Department, which he said was not equivalent to Gladio. Özkök also that he does not see a connection between military coups and Gladio, and explained that the Special Warfare Department was existed in the Cold War era and its duty was to organize the public for guerilla war, in a way similar to Turkey’s Independence War.

No feedback from Yalman
Asked whether he agreed with the Sept. 12 military coup, Özkök said he does not defend any coup. “You have to see whether the result was good or bad in the end. One has to look at it. … Politicians should make changes using politics, but there have been times in the past when politicians have requested our assistance.”

Özkök also commented on article 35 of the Turkish Armed Forces’ (TSK) Internal Service Law, as it is has been suggested that this article paves the way to military coups by legitimizing them. Asked if the article increases the threat of military coups, Özkök said the TSK could never have been called upon to assist in domestic events if not for Article 35. “Article 35 is not as [significant] as it is thought to be outside [the TSK],” he said.

At first Özkök wished to refrain from answering questions on the alleged “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) and “Ergenekon” coup plans, because they are still subject to judicial investigation at the moment. Özkök said he had not heard of a coup preparation plan known as Balyoz, but added that he had however heard that “expressions beyond the limits” were used during the seminar at which Balyoz was allegedly planned, and that he had assigned then-Land Forces Commander Gen. Aytaç Yalman to examine the issue.

Yalman, however, did not provide him with feedback, Özkök said. Özkök was also asked whether he had been offered the opportunity to become a candidate for president upon his retirement, responding: “Never. There was neither an implication nor a proposal.”