Turkish Army calls for calm and restraint over coup plot verdicts
A protester runs to throw a tear gas canister back during clashes with riot police as they try to march to a courthouse in Silivri, where a hearing on people charged with attempting to overthrow government took place, August 5, 2013. REUTERS photoThe Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) called for restraint and patience with regard to the Ergenekon coup case, in which many high-ranking army officials, including the former chief of General Staff, were sentenced to severe punishments for coup attempts, as government officials praised the verdicts.
Both retired and active army members were given prison sentences as result of the Aug. 5 verdict trial, which ended the five-year Ergenekon run, and the TSK response came a day after the announcements.
The Armed Forces called for “restraint, patience and calm” during the procession of the verdicts in order to avoid misunderstandings, while adding that the institution “deeply shares the sadness felt by our brothers in arms and their families.”
TSK further said the institution had faith in a certain verdict that would end the process, which would be achieved through fair judicial proceedings.
Justice and Development Party (AKP) figures however responded favorably to the rulings with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s chief political adviser, Yalçın Akdoğan, describing the coup case as a “turning point for Turkish democracy.”
“This case is calling to account the spirit of intervention which floated through from May 27 to March 12, from Sept. 12 to April 27. The Ergenekon case does not only call to account an illegal attempt, but also the ward-like understanding that in time sneaked into the structure of the state,” Akdoğan posted on his personal Twitter account.
Turkey has achieved “a great historic act” in making coup attempts subject to the judiciary, Akdoğan added.
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ also described the case as historic, while claiming “Turkey passed an important test in democracy and the rule of law.”
“No court rules on a verdict without evidence. The court rules only by the Constitution, the law, the evidence and by the will of conscience,” Bozdağ said, while accusing opposition figures who have been voicing discontent with the court’s rulings of “fanaticism.”
‘Good for democracy’
EU Minister Egemen Bağış continued to reflect on the case over his personal Twitter account, where he spoke of the process as “good for Turkey’s democracy.”
“If coups and attempts in 1960, 1971 and 1980 had been put on trial, the Feb. 28 and April 27 processes would have never happened. The pains of the past should not be repeated in the future,” Bağış said.
Members of Turkey’s opposition parties, however, were less satisfied with the results, voicing protests against the trial.
Turkish main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu slammed the severe sentences announced in the Ergenekon trial verdict Aug. 5, calling the court’s rulings “illegitimate.” Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli also joined Kılıçdaroğlu in voicing strong criticism of the verdict, which he described as a “murder of law.”
CHP Deputy Mehmet Haberal, who was convicted and subsequently released after the Aug. 5 trial, told the CHP’s deputy chair and Istanbul deputy Umut Oran that “no such organization as Ergenekon exists.” “We need to tell that to the people, and to break that understanding.” Haberal told Oran, according to sources.