The former minister reportedly told the commission that mistakes made by the politicians of the then-government led the military to stage the coup. On Feb. 28, the powerful military forced the coalition government led by the now-defunct Welfare Party (RP) out of power on the grounds that there was rising religious fundamentalism in the country.
An investigation is under way looking into the suspected actors involved in the coup. More than 60 people have already been arrested and sent to jail on accusations of participating in a coup. In addition, the parliamentary commission is hearing testimonies from prominent figures of the coup period about their recollections of that time.
The Erez testimony lasted close to two-and-a-half hours. İdris Naim Şahin, the spokesperson for the commission, spoke to reporters after Erez’s testimony, and said the former minister provided the commission with important details about the coup period. “Erez told us about the difficulties in Turkish politics at the time. He said mistakes made by politicians [of the coalition government of the time] led to the military coup. He said Turkey’s politicians should derive the necessary lessons from Turkey’s political experience not to make similar mistakes in the future,” Şahin said, and added that the former minister stressed that he does not believe Turkey will undergo a new coup d’état because that type of risk is already over. The 1997 coup introduced a series of severe restrictions on religious life, including an unofficial but widely practiced ban on the use of headscarves by women. The military was also purged of members with suspected ties to religious groups or officers who were simply observant Muslims. In addition, a number of newspapers were closed down based on a National Security Council (MGK) decision calling for closer monitoring of media outlets.
The parliamentary commission is set to hear the testimonies of journalist Ekrem Kızıltaş and former minister Güneş Taner about their recollections of the 1997 coup in the days to come.