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April 17, 2012, Tuesday

February 28 and beyond

It is simply not possible for Turkey to strengthen its democracy without having faced past coups and coup attempts. This is also necessary in order to succeed in elaborating a new, democratic and pluralist constitution. We know that the present constitution and the structures it created are frequently used to justify coup attempts. That’s why it is inevitable to rewrite the constitution and implement structural reforms in order to look at the country’s democratic future with more confidence.

The majority of the people in Turkey have realized at last that it is pointless to label some coups as bad and others good, according to the perpetrators or the coup’s targets. What is important is to admit that coups are unjustifiable once you agree to live according to democratic principles. It is also crucial to be able to judge anyone who has tried, or succeeded, to topple elected governments. The coup trials will reinforce the struggle against all actions and groups that have supported the coups, keeping in mind that some civilians, too, have played their role in those coups and coup attempts.

Until now, those who have been brought to justice in the context of coup trials were mostly retired or active duty officers. Some journalists who have tried to justify the coup attempts by several means were also included in these trials. However, we have to admit that Turkey’s judicial system and the trial procedures have some serious failures; thus, the coup trials are sometimes accused of not being democratic. It is essential to have a judiciary that will not allow accidents that can derail the entire process.

Military coups are, by definition, perpetrated by the armed forces. However, we mustn’t neglect the fact that the armed forces don’t prepare and implement their coups without civilian assistance. In other words, every coup and coup attempt has civilian and political supporters.

There are two groups of politicians who help the elaboration of the coups: The first group prepares the groundwork for the coup willingly or unwillingly by making sure that the normal democratic processes don’t work. The second group openly collaborates with the plotters in the hope of replacing the current government. Moreover, these politicians always enjoy some support from the business world, too. In other words, coups are carried out with the cooperation of three kinds of actors: military, political and economic. Until now, the trials about Turkey’s past coups were focused on the military aspect of the coups, while the other segments behind the coups have been neglected.

The political and economic actors who have played important roles in the coups are not yet totally exposed. Society has an opinion about their identities and what roles they have played, but one, of course, needs tangible proof to bring them to justice.

Nevertheless, exposing the contribution of the political and economic actors in the coups may be hard, as most of these people are still active in the country’s political and economic life. Besides, some of them have pretty sinister relationships, including with terrorist organizations, foreign intelligence agencies or gangs involved in smuggling, which not surprisingly makes us wonder about possible connections with Turkey’s Southeast problem.

To give a concrete example, one of the most important issues to be investigated are the links between those political and economic actors and the arms industry. A thorough investigation into weapons purchases and modernization contracts may provide important clues about the economic dimension of the coup attempts. Divulging a number of ugly truths is the only way to prevent a repetition of Feb. 28-like postmodern coup attempts.

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