EU official says military should return to its ‘barracks’

Co-chairwoman of the EU-Turkey JPC, Hélène Flautre, calls on the military to return to its duties

March 06, 2010, Saturday/ 17:57:00
The co-chairwoman of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), Hélène Flautre, has said the ongoing democratization process in Turkey calls on the military to return to its duties and to stop meddling in the political and public domain.

In an interview with Samanyolu Haber’s “European Table” on Friday, which is hosted by Selçuk Gültaşlı, Flautre said the military should retreat to the military barracks, a step that should be taken in line with the EU’s Copenhagen criteria so that Turkey can have a place in Europe in the future.

Flautre’s remarks came in response to a question asking whether the recent detention and arrests of high-ranking active and retired military members in Turkey in line with probes into controversial coup plots were bringing Turkey closer to European standards with regard to its civilian-military relations.

Last week, dozens of active and retired military members including three retired force commanders were detained in a probe into the “Sledgehammer” action plot, which includes subversive plots such as bombing mosques and downing Turkish jets in order to foment chaos in the country with the ultimate goal of a military takeover. At least 35 of the detained were arrested while the three retired force generals were released pending trial.

Flautre said the military’s intervention in politics is something unacceptable in modern democracies.

Regarding elements that will bring Turkey closer to European standards, she said they include reforms, the preparation for a new constitution and compromises in the political and public domains.

Acknowledging that these elements have not yet been achieved in Turkey, Flautre said these issues were tough ones that lead to conflicts in society and that the EU’s first and foremost expectation was the realization of reforms that will ensure the neutrality and the reliability of the judiciary.

The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government has recently announced plans to push for judicial reform in order to make the Turkish judiciary a more independent and objective one. Nevertheless, the opposition parties in Turkey have voiced opposition to the government plans for judicial reform accusing it of trying to shape the judiciary in its favor.

Flautre also talked about the government’s Kurdish initiative, which was launched last summer in order to find a solution to Turkey’s long-standing Kurdish problem through the expansion of the rights and freedoms of the country’s Kurds, who were long deprived of their fundamental rights. She said the solution process for the Kurdish problem should not stop, while noting that she was very pleased to see that the government is handling this problem along with its social, political and economic implications. A solution to the Kurdish problem is of crucial importance for all the citizens in Turkey, she noted, adding that this issue lies at the heart of Turkish democracy and its future.

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