Confronted with a wave of accusations that range from coup plots to assassination plans directed against high-profile critics, the Turkish military has ended its long-standing policy of stonewalling any attempt to investigate members of the armed forces from outside.
When Gen Ilker Basbug, Turkey’s chief of general staff, ordered his subordinates to open a secret archive to an investigating judge last month, that decision marked a key moment in the transition towards more civilian control over the military, observers say. The balance of power in Ankara is tipping towards the civilians.
“We are not hiding anything, open the door,” said the general’s order, according to media reports that are understood to have had the blessing of the armed forces. Kadir Kayan, a judge in Ankara, has been going through documents in the “cosmic chamber” of the military, an archive containing secret files, for more than two weeks. Mr Kayan is investigating accusations that two military officers planned an assassination attempt on Bulent Arinc, a deputy prime minister and outspoken critic of the military. As a country that has seen four governments pushed from power by the military since 1960, Turkey developed “a structure we call military guardianship” over the years, Ali Bayramoglu, a prominent columnist, told yesterday’s Vatan newspaper. In that structure, the military never fully recognised the leadership of civilian governments, he added. But recent events signalled that those days are over. “We see that this is changing step by step,” Bayramoglu said. [continued…]