Government aims to amend Article 35 of TSK Internal Service Code

May 10, 2012, Thursday/ 13:45:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

In order to fully put a stop to attempts by the military to interfere in politics, the government plans to submit a proposal to Parliament in the coming days regarding changes to article 35 of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) Internal service Code, which is believed to be the main reason behind the military's readiness to stage coups d'état.

As the trials of coup perpetrators continue the government has stepped up attempts to amend the notorious article, which is frequently criticized for effectively paving the way for the military to intervene in domestic affairs under certain circumstances and carry out coups, the Sabah daily reported on Thursday. The proposal is expected to be submitted to Parliament soon.

During his interrogation by prosecutors, retired Gen. Çevik Bir, who is currently in jail for having played a major role in the Feb. 28, 1997 coup, sought to justify the military's meddling in politics in 1997 by pointing to the article in question.

“The duty of the TSK is to protect and watch over the Turkish motherland and the Turkish Republic as delineated by the Constitution,” reads the article. Though the article does not contain a clear provision facilitating military coups, it has several times been used to legitimize coups.

Former president and retired Gen. Kenan Evren, who was put on trial earlier last month for his role in the bloody Sept. 12 coup, also referred to the same article in his defense to justify his anti-democratic action.

The government's amendment to the article will limit the duty of the TSK to “to protect the Turkish motherland from external threats.”

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