16 April 2014, Wednesday
Today's Zaman

Turkey cannot turn its back on democracy

28 April 2007, Saturday /
The General Staff issued a statement in the late hours of Friday night. Since the statement was very harsh, some likened it to a "military memorandum." The stability that has been sustained in the last four-and-a-half years was clouded. On the other hand, some commentaries made over the General Staff's stance were even harsher. The negative atmosphere that emerged in a very short time, unfortunately, reflected a landscape that would severely embarrass Turkey in the international arena. International news agencies reflected this picture, which will likely shake the trust in Turkish democracy and harm stability.

The debate sparked late in the night was not at all a befitting scene for Turkey. Intellectuals who managed to get over the initial shock immediately adopted a common stance in favor of resolving all problems through democratic means. This stance is important. In fact, things like military memoranda or coups not only harm politics but also all the institutions of the state and the nation at large.

Following the statement of the General Staff, all the eyes were riveted on the government. Government spokesman Cemil Çiçek read out a very meticulously written statement prepared after hours of deliberations, and underlined important details. In the statement, which highlighted the fact that the General Staff was an institution attached to the government, he pointed out that the government was seriously concerned and upset; he mentioned efforts to "incite the judicial system against the government" and drew attention to an imminent danger. "We should frustrate the efforts of some people with evil intentions trying to pit our Turkish Armed Forces against our government," Çiçek stressed.

Considering the statement in its entirety, we see that the government adopted a dignified stance against a possible military operation but without being obstinate, and offered dialogue to prevent certain malicious circles from getting what they desire. This is the right move.

Certain groups have been making particular and painstaking efforts to create a rift between the government and certain institutions of the state. There may have been certain events which were easy to misinterpret, and there may have been certain attitudes which cannot not be approved; however being a state necessitates being even-tempered and acting in a sound-minded fashion. The reflection of Turkey's state tradition on institutions and politics definitely entails acting in an imperturbable manner. Turkey has so to say it has digested democracy and the republic not only through its citizens but also through its institutions. We should be able to see this clearly; Turkey is also going through a very critical process. Now, everyone is carrying a large wicker basket full of eggs on their backs. The plummeting of the Turkish economy would serve no one, neither the politicians nor the military and it would have grave consequences which we would altogether have to suffer. It is unthinkable for Turkey, which has made a great headway in the EU process, to renounce democracy and become introverted. We cannot rashly sacrifice the benefits we have so far made from the republic and democracy for the sake of the evil instinct of polarization.

Today is the day everyone should remember their responsibilities. While Çiçek noted on Friday that "We should frustrate the efforts of some people with evil intentions trying to pit our Turkish Armed Forces against our government," ANAVATAN leader Erkan Mumcu said, "Regime guardianship would bring no good to the country; we should now take each other by the hand," and leader of DYP Mehmet Ağar stressed, "The only existing path is democracy."

At this stage, there are important duties that should be assumed, first and foremost by CHP leader Deniz Baykal. Fomenting tensions all the time will neither benefit the government nor the opposition. Any effort to polarize the society will cause serious harm to this country. Therefore, everyone from the soldiers to civilians, from the media to the business world must act responsibly and look for ways of a resolution within democracy, no matter how big the problem is.

The Turkey of 2007 has assigned this responsibility to everyone. Overlooking this reality is tantamount to heading into an obscure adventure in which our descendants will definitely hold us responsible before history. There is no need for such an adventure. The Turkey of today and tomorrow invites everyone to take upon themselves a responsibility.

That responsibility is consolidated by the belief that we can’t afford to turn our backs on democracy.

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