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, took aim at the current state of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) at a conference focusing on the new constitution held in Eskişehir province on Monday.
“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 New Constitution.”
“We left behind the idea of thinking we have a national army the day we entered NATO,” he said.
Kocasakal was also critical of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). He said the party had lost its orientation of being on the side of the public.
He also criticized the trial of people who held senior military positions during the 1980 military coup and Feb. 28, 1997 military intervention.
“Some people who were coup supporters in the past are taking opposite stances today. If they had hearts, they should have opposed all coups,” he added.
Separate incidents have shown that Kocasakal has a growing dislike of and problem with anti-coup lawyers and journalists. Kocasakal, who was elected to the helm of the İstanbul Bar Association in November 2010, has frequently sparked controversy for his support of suspects who are being tried as part of the Sledgehammer coup case.
The İstanbul Bar Association, according to sources close to the organization, has allegedly prepared a plan with the aim of halting the proceedings of specially authorized courts, which were established in line with Articles 250 and 251 of the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK) in 2005.
The bar association allegedly aims to stall some cases, such as the case against Ergenekon, the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plan and that against the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organization that allegedly encompasses the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). These three major cases are being tried by specially authorized courts.
Another speaker at the conference was Sabih Kanadoğlu, the former chief prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, known for his staunch secularism and unyielding opposition to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
He said Turkey's current constitution is valid and that everybody has to abide by its rules. He also opposed preparations for making a new constitution.
Kanadoğlu was at the center of strong criticism in 2007 when he attempted to block the election of then-Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül to the presidency. Based on his interpretation of the constitution, he put forward the idea that the parliamentary quorum for a presidential election was 367. His claim halted the parliamentary vote on the presidential election. The AK Party held a referendum that resulted in the requirement that 184 deputies be in attendance for sessions and votes in Parliament.
The four political parties in Parliament have been in agreement about Turkey's need for a new constitution since last year's June 12 elections. The current constitution, which was drafted following the 1980 military coup, has been criticized by large segments of society since it includes many anti-democratic elements.