[email protected]

June 07, 2012, Thursday

The situation is now clear, but …

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan confirmed a few nights ago on a news program that changes had been prepared in relation to the Specially Authorized Courts. The government has publicly clarified its stance on this matter.

The case before us is now clear … The prime minister noted that the debates over the courts in question had been triggered by the prosecutors calling in National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan for questioning while using the term “suspect” before his name.

He then said: “This was really not an acceptable way of approaching the matter. The functioning of the state is being bludgeoned. This was something that really went over the line. As prime minister, if I do not stand up for my undersecretary, well, I am the one giving him orders. If you take him in, take me too. There are really a lot of mistakes being made. Which means this article gives way too much authority, causing people to think, ‘We are a state within a state.’ We need to think about the functioning of the system here. We will, of course, work on this matter, but the 250 [Article 250 of the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK)] has gathered all the authority in hand, and are using it as they wish. It is not acceptable that some see themselves as a power above the state, and assume the authority that ‘I can call in whomever I wish for testimony.’ There are unfortunately people being held for questioning that could actually be questioned while free to go. We need to get through this process in a way that sees us softening things in a very different style.”

These are very clear messages. The Prime Minister is criticizing the prosecutors and judges using terms such as “going over the lines,” and then talking about how the functioning of the state is being derailed, or how certain people seem to see themselves as a “state within a state.” Erdoğan is quite resolute. It is clear he is going to bring a set of serıous limitations to the Specially Authorized Courts.

The prime minister also spoke to a widespread concern about whether or not the current unfolding situation with the courts might “damage the essence of the ongoing coup and coup attempt trials.” He said: “Do not be deceived by this news. The struggle against the coups will never stop. Were we not the ones who have shown great effort on fronts such as Ergenekon, Balyoz, the mafia and various organizations until now? Were we not the ones who took all these steps? It is not even a question; we are not about to take a step backwards on these fronts.”

Now, unfortunately, we find ourselves at a juncture in the road due to the missteps of a careless prosecutor, a prosecutor with a bit of an attitude of “I have all the power.” It may be that the prime minister is taking a correct step as he sees it; we hope he is not falling prey to his emotions. It is our duty as columnists to recall a few important points, that they be noted down and marked for posterity here.

The first is that these prosecutors and judges in question, the ones from the Specially Authorized Courts, solved the century-old system of tutelage that had reigned in this nation. They heroically did what no one before had dared. To put the many things they have done for the state and nation under suspicion, and to take steps to pacify them  because of a few mistakes, could lead to results that would be impossible to fix.

The second point is that if the essence of the ongoing coup trials is destroyed, it will play out just as those who have tried to water down, confuse and belittle those trials have wanted: It will play right into the hands of the supporters of Ergenekon. Even now we see those who are rubbing their hands together and talking broadly of revenge …

The third point is that one must never forget the lessons taught by recent history. When one looks at the 1974 amnesty and the “Rahşan amnesty,” one sees a chasm between the results and what was originally intended. The freeing of hundreds of suspects due to changes that take place in the laws governing the Specially Authorized Courts could put the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) into a situation of extreme difficulty. A breaking point greater than that presented by the Uludere incident could emerge. The AK Party could turn into a political party unable to explain its own actions. Political instability could turn into economic instability, then total chaos.

Some ask me: “What does it matter to you what happens to the AK Party?” My response is that the situation is important not from the angle of the party or the government, but from the angle of Turkey’s stability and democratization. After all, can you answer the following questions: “When the AK Party goes, what will take its place? Will democratization be able to continue?”

The fourth and final point is that, when it comes to coup supporters, they play lots and lots of games. If you distance yourself too far from those you really trust, there is no return. While you say, “We need to get through this process in a way that sees us softening things,” don’t forget, you must not play into the hands of those who have held guardian tutelage for so long.

Previous articles of the columnist