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August 30, 2012, Thursday

Aug. 30, Ergenekon and our army

Yesterday we celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Dumlupınar victory on Aug. 30, 1922. Put aside debates over our recent history, this victory is very valuable for giving our beloved nation a chance of resurrection and standing up again so our country can become a shining star in its region after 90 years. We remember the architects of this victory, especially Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and all patriots of our heroic army with gratitude.

Yes, we are experiencing a grand change towards democratization, drifting apart from military tutelage. We are going through a period when we question and confront our past. But there is a very important thing to consider: We have to make a distinction between the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) as an institution and its members who once brewed pro-junta ideology in the institution and attempted to sell a leftist revolution to the army.

This army is our army. In the region where Turkey is located, it is vital for our future that the TSK becomes a deterrent power. A strong army of a strong Turkey, which has a strong democracy and has internal integrity, is a reliable partner for friends and a warning to think twice for foes. Therefore, in debates regarding Turkey's transition from military tutelage to democracy, the TSK as an institution should not be mixed with its pro-junta members who weaken the TSK like a tumor.

We must also remember history's warning. The Janissaries were unruly for a long time in the Ottoman Empire. They killed their own rulers by torturing and poisoning them. Arrows were shot into the tent of Sultan Selim I. … They had the biggest role in the fight for the throne.

But the same Janissaries also fought in Belgrade and in Vienna. “They defended this nation's good name, honor, dignity, land and future with their commanders leading the Janissaries for four or five centuries.” While judging the incidents in history, heroes and actors of the time, reason and objectivism should not be ignored. Making assessments with today's mentality and without taking yesterday's conditions, opportunities, perceptions and order into consideration would be wrong. Adding prejudice and anger to this, you would only end up wearing a blindfold.

With this sensitivity, we should look at the trial processes that are associated with the trial of the terrorist organization, Ergenekon. We should admit that there have been many mistakes and changes in tone. Reasonable people now have a responsibility on their shoulders. We should make a new assessment. We should control the settings without obsessing about individuals or getting carried away by emotions. First of all, until the judiciary makes its final decision, no one should make the injustice of “extrajudicial execution.” There is a legal process going on. We should avoid definite judgments. While speaking or writing about the legal process, the words “allegedly” and “claimed to be” should be used.

Even if individuals who are claimed to have attempted to stage a coup according to the evidence, documents and statements at hand actually illegally blacklisted people, expelled people from their jobs, stirred up animosity or staged extrajudicial executions, people who value their honor should not be like them. Looking at “supporters of Ergenekon” and pro-junta people who hanged ministers and prime ministers in the past, we cannot defame the entire TSK or bring it under suspicion. We, as a nation, have been referring to the TSK as the "Prophet's Home." Our history has been symbolized over this body, in a way. Defaming the entire “home” by looking at how some officers did not respect their own values would be shooting ourselves in the foot.

Today, the wish of the majority of our society is that such a vitally important body should deserve the nation's values and love. What is making countries in our age stronger is a democracy that rises above universal humanitarian values and is crowned with expanded freedoms and superiority of the law. A strong army is possible only with a strong democracy and with soldiers of a society which advances towards peace and prosperity. The essential aim is to have an army that loves its people and armed forces that respect the people.

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