Former general admits having told Ecevit to hand over party

February 23, 2012, Thursday/ 16:40:00

Former National Security Council (MGK) Secretary-General retired Gen. Tuncer Kılınç has admitted to having told late prime minister and former Democratic Left Party (DSP) leader Bülent Ecevit to hand over the party to someone else.

Kılınç's remarks came during the 159th hearing of the Ergenekon trial, concerning a clandestine network whose suspected members -- including generals, military officers and many civilians -- are currently in jail for plotting a military takeover. During Thursday's hearing Kılınç, who is also an Ergenekon suspect, responded to the claims of former DSP deputy and Ecevit's security chief Recai Birgün, who earlier said Kılınç asked Ecevit in 2004 to hand over the DSP to an administration favored by the military.

Kılınç admitted to having met with Ecevit, but said he recommended the late prime minister expand the younger cadre of the party administration in order to strengthen the party. Birgün reported that in 2010 Kılınç was the first person to visit Ecevit in 2004 after the DSP chief announced that he would give up politics ahead of the March 2004 local elections.

“There is a need for a party that can get votes from the left and the right. As army officers, we believe the DSP meets our requirements. Leave your party to our friends. [Journalist] Tuncay Özkan [now an Ergenekon defendant] can do this job well. We can fight the [Justice and Development Party] AK Party only in this way,” Birgün quoted Kılınç as saying to Ecevit.

Stating that Ecevit told Kılınç that his party's doors were open to any who wanted to engage in politics as part of his party, Birgün added that the former prime minister also told Kılınç it was not possible to put a person who was not a party member in a position of party leadership. “Come and be a party member, work for the party leadership, and if my friends find it appropriate, anyone can become party leader,” Ecevit reportedly told the retired general.

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