General Staff: Attempts to provoke Turkish military unfortunate

May 03, 2012, Thursday/ 15:50:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

The General Staff has strongly criticized recent statements by members of the press and by representatives of professional associations targeting the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) for what they call “inactivity” against the government, terming attempts to provoke the military “unfortunate.”

The General Staff said in a statement posted online on Thursday that there have recently been frequent news reports and claims that target the TSK -- which it says is performing its legally prescribed duties in the best way it can -- and which “are thought to be serving certain purposes.”

“We are following with regret and concern such claims and comments which are for the purpose of provocation and which go beyond the limits of criticism and aim to demoralize members of the TSK and hamper their efforts to perform their duties in the best way possible.

“It’s unfortunate that some writers, spokespersons and representatives of professional associations -- by abusing freedom of the press and freedom of expression -- are even making a mockery of military titles, which were honorably held by military men, including our eternal Commander-in-Chief Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and that they are trying to provoke the TSK and its valuable members with statements and articles that aim to weaken discipline in our army, which is regarded as the most disciplined army in the world,” the statement continued.

The General Staff also reiterated its commitment to the “fundamentals of the Constitution and the parliamentarian democratic system of Turkey” standing against any kind of provocation.

The statement comes on the heels of statements by İstanbul Bar Association Chairman Ümit Kocasakal -- known for earlier remarks in solidarity with suspects in the Ergenekon case, a clandestine gang accused of plotting to overthrow the government, earlier this week. Kocasakal on Monday took aim at the current state of the TSK during a conference on the new constitution held in Eskişehir province.

“We thought we had an army which is powerful and which will protect us. We now have the Turkish unarmed forces. You are now the Turkish unarmed forces,” he said at the conference, titled “Judicial Independence and the New Constitution.”

“We left behind the idea of thinking we have a national army the day we entered NATO,” he added.

Media outlets speculated that the TSK’s statement might also have been a response to staunchly secular Cumhuriyet daily columnist Bekir Coşkun, who criticized the TSK in a recent column, likening military shoulder patches to a dog leashes and accusing the Turkish military of being under the command of the government.

“Then, what is that shining on your shoulder? My leash. What does it do? This is necessary as my owner directs me wherever he takes me. What if I do not want to do what he says? You should do it in return as he is giving you so many things,” Coşkun wrote on April 29 in an article titled “Paşa” (Pasha).

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