Twenty-nine people, including retired generals and former military members, have been arrested over the past week in İstanbul for alleged links to a deep-state organization called Ergenekon, which has been involved in a serious of attacks and murders in Turkey. Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt was asked about the Ergenekon incident as he met with Macedonian Defense Minister Lazar Elenovski at military headquarters in Ankara yesterday.
“In every society, there may be some people who resort to illegal methods. They will be tried by the court and the judiciary will have the final word on their actions. And that ruling is put into practice,” Büyükanıt said.
The top general complained about efforts to associate the TSK with these illegal formations, saying: “There were such efforts in the past, and they also exist today. The TSK is not a crime organization. Those who commit an offense as TSK members will be tried in court and punished accordingly. Thus it is an empty effort to relate the TSK to such incidents. If there is a crime, there is also a punishment. And it is the judiciary who will give that punishment, not individuals.”
In the meantime, Büyükanıt was also asked about what his reaction would be if Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was invited to Turkey for an official visit. The Turkish military has so far refused to talk to Iraqi Kurdish leaders on grounds that they support the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which launches deadly terror attacks on Turkey.
“I do not even know whether there has been such an invitation or not,” responded Büyükanıt.
When the reporter changed his question, “I asked this question because there exists such a likelihood,” in an apparent reference to a recent statement by President Abdullah Gül's saying that Turkey could invite Talabani, Büyükanıt replied: “If you recall, I made a statement at a press conference last February in the US. Back then, I said there was no point to our meeting with Talabani as the Turkish military. Yet this does not mean that other state institutions should not meet with those leaders. Here, we do not have a right to ask other state bodies to do the same [as we do]. This is our attitude. As the military, we think there is no point in our having such a meeting.”