“Above all, there are two prime ministers in Turkey,” he said. “One is from the military, and the other is elected. The elected one has no role in appointing posts in the military; they come to power by their internal hierarchy. The civilians are there to approve the appointments.”
Güzel also alleged that photos published by the Taraf daily about attacks launched by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on the Aktütün military outpost were provided by the Americans.
Speaking to Today’s Zaman, Güzel said the Ergenekon case was serving as a litmus test for Turkish politics and democracy. Describing the case as the biggest one in Turkey’s Republican history, Güzel said: “Only the Yassıada trials … had far-reaching effects similar to the Ergenekon case.
“However, these trials were a showcase by the people who were serving as the puppets of the coup committee. For this reason, these trials were not legal at all. In Susurluk, they took action against the weak while the stronger remained out of legal prosecution. For the first time since the 1960 coup, a process was initiated to hold coup attempts accountable in Turkey.”
Güzel said he thinks the failure to include coup journals kept by former Naval Forces Commander Adm. Özden Örnek -- in which he plotted the Ayışığı and Sarıkız coups in the indictment -- crippled the whole trial.
“Maybe the coup journals are not included in the indictment; however, some of the generals who led these attempts are being tried in connection with the Ergenekon case,” he said. “Turkish democracy is not mature enough to prosecute coup makers. But this is fine, too; it is a big step.
“If any action could have been taken against coup makers, the perpetrators of the electronic coup in 2007 should have been held responsible. There is a semi-military democracy in Turkey. For this reason, we prosecute coup attempts only through indirect means. The charges include attempts to overthrow the government and make Parliament inoperable. These are not acts that could be committed without coups. Only an organization founded to plot a coup could commit these acts.”
Recalling that the Ergenekon case is strongly affected by the military’s influence, Güzel said a substantial number of members in Ergenekon had supporters within the army because they were retired army officers.
“Ergenekon is army-based,” Güzel said. “It is significant that the recent military council in August did not discharge any from the army. There are rumors indicating that coups are being planned within the army. Ergenekon’s extensions within the army have not been purged. The army needs to proceed with a thorough cleanup process. Dealing with these illegal acts will have a deterrent effect.”
Trial crippled by military’s impunity
Asked whether the army could do this cleanup, Güzel said it was unlikely that the coup journals would be included in the prosecution: “The coup journals will not be included in the Ergenekon file because the army’s mentality has been changed with the appointment of İlker Başbuğ as the new chief of staff. Two generals on trial in connection with the Ergenekon case were visited per Başbuğ’s instruction in an attempt to show that this action was done on behalf of the military. This is a warning and threat to the judiciary and a message suggesting that the army supports these guys. It is obvious that such a military would not allow coup makers to be prosecuted.”
Noting that it was impossible to prosecute coup masterminds as long as there remains a distinction between civilian and military laws in Turkey, Güzel said that nowhere else in the world are military courts like the military’s Court of Appeals and the Military Administrative Court.
“The prosecutors investigating the Ergenekon case are blocked by the impunity that the military enjoys. Either a constitutional amendment is needed to rearrange military law or the military has to proceed with a cleanup process to purge its illegal entities,” Güzel said. “It would be very optimistic to expect such a choice from a command line that praises the post-modern coup of Feb. 28, 1997,” in which the military overthrew the coalition government led by Necmettin Erbakan of the Welfare Party (RP).
Describing Başbuğ’s news conference held to criticize Taraf daily as a mistake, Güzel said he had received information suggesting that the military’s command line was considering a possible coup.
Başbuğ lashed out at the media in mid-October for publishing confidential information revealing that the army knew in advance about a terrorist attack on a military outpost in eastern Turkey on Oct. 3 that left 17 Turkish soldiers dead.
‘There are two prime ministers in Turkey’
Güzel explained the power structure that exists between the “civilian prime minister” and the “military prime minister.”
“Even though the military prime minister looks to be subordinate to the civilian prime minister, this is not the case in practice because the elected prime minister remains ready to take orders from the military one. For this reason, headlines are made to mock Prime Minister Erdoğan. This is not the fault of the current prime minister; this is the established system because the generals are eager to become involved in other business in this country.”
Speaking on the different stance and style of the current chief of staff from that of his predecessors Yaşar Büyükanıt and Hilmi Özkök, Güzel said: “As soon as he came to office, General Başbuğ announced a program similar to an administrative plan. I penned a lot of government programs. The ‘military prime minister’ decided what to cover during his speech. It included everything except economic issues. In what other country does a chief of staff deliver such a lengthy speech? What does he talk about?
“What he said in the speech has nothing to do with the army. ‘I will endorse some parts of the program,’ he announced; but these things are not his business. Then he heads to Diyarbakır to meet people. There, he delivered a message indicating that he was the ‘primary’ prime minister.”
‘There are two legislative branches’
Describing the Constitutional Court’s decision to cancel the amendment that lifted the headscarf ban at universities as a grave mistake, Güzel maintained that the decision showed there are two legislative branches in Turkey.
“The decision is a total disaster. They assert that the 47 percent majority -- and you may even say 60 percent considering the MHP’s support -- who endorsed the constitutional amendment made a mistake. Considering that the majority may make mistakes, we may argue that they also committed a mistake despite making the decision with a 9-2 vote. But they are the nine appointed by Ahmet Necdet Sezer. They do not make mistakes. People asserting they are Kemalists do not make mistakes in this country. Only ordinary people -- Ahmets, Mehmets -- make mistakes.
“This is a clear example of fascism and despotism. Not only have the military but also the judiciary violated the boundaries of democracy in Turkey.”
Constitutional Court should be abolished
Recalling that the Constitutional Court was created in the aftermath of the 1960 coup, Güzel said the decisions made by the court until 1970 disturbed the military officers who issued the 1971 memorandum. Güzel said the court’s authority was limited after the memo was issued.
Güzel, who also recalls that the military further limited the court’s authorities following the military coup on Sept. 12, 1980, holds that it is not a coincidence that the military establishing the court was bothered by its decisions: “The reasoned decision says, ‘I will invent the Constitution if necessary.’ Right now, the Constitutional Court is more authoritative than Parliament. We have to shut one of these down. There are many countries with no Constitutional Court. But there is no country without a Parliament. In this case, the Constitutional Court should be closed down immediately.”
Asked whether it is possible to do that in this environment, Güzel says: “Under these conditions, the militarist democracy will not allow this happen. In this case, we have to rearrange the authorities and duties of the Constitutional Court. No authority should be granted to the court with respect to constitutional changes. It should not be allowed to examine these changes even in terms of their form. It will have to make its decisions unanimously. The court should not serve as a Supreme Court anymore; this role should be played by the Court of Appeals. At least half of its members should be picked by Parliament. Unless these are done, it will keep violating Parliament’s authority.”
So is it possible for a new constitution to solve these problems? According to Güzel, it is. He suggested an interesting alternative for the government to facilitate a founding parliament that would create a new constitution:
“Even Deniz Baykal says, ‘Make your coup, and then you will make a constitution accordingly.’ The elected are not allowed to make a constitution, but coup makers are entitled to do this. In this case, two separate ballots should be made available to the voters.
“The members of the founding parliament that will make the new constitution should be elected through this method. Members of this parliament make the constitution and then dissolve the parliament after two years of work. Otherwise, I believe that the whistle will be blown if this Parliament attempts to make a new constitution.”
Asserting that the Turkish media does not have a code of ethics and that their publications serve as propaganda for terror organizations, Güzel said Başbuğ’s response to such publications was a mistake: “No army allows its troops to perish. It is disgusting to assert that it does. This is a terrible allegation. It appears that there is negligence in terms of timing and intelligence gathering in Aktütün.”
Güzel further asserted that the pictures published by Taraf daily were provided by Americans: “I think these pictures were leaked by American sources. Even if it becomes evident they actually did so, Chief of Staff İlker Başbuğ may make different comments on it.”
Güzel said the new mechanism set up under the auspices of Interior Ministry to deal with terrorism more effectively reflects a proper approach. But he said that this does not necessarily mean the army should withdraw completely from counterterrorism.