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11.04.1997

Turkes Jr. Faces Hard Times Ahead

Turkes Jr. Faces Hard Times Ahead  » Turkish Nationalists Lose Their Leader  » Business world wishes for MHP leader Turkes  » The Two Shades of Green  » Facts Not Mentioned in the Susurluk Report  » Government Drags On, So Does Social Restlessness  » The Week in Perspective  » Focus on Human Rights
Untitled 11 April, 1997, Turkish Probe issue 223, Copyright © Turkish Daily News
CONTENTS
  • Turkes Jr. Faces Hard Times Ahead
  • Turkish Nationalists Lose Their Leader
  • Business world wishes for MHP leader Turkes
  • The Two Shades of Green
  • Rebellion Threat: Devoid of popular support, a crisis in administration willalways be under threat of military interventions or popular rebellions
  • Representation Crisis: If Labor Unions, organizations of civil servants, youth and women's organizations, universities and intellectuals cannotinfluence politics, there must be a crisis of representation
  • Facts Not Mentioned in the Susurluk Report
  • Between the Lines: The Susurluk Commission limited the state-gang connection to Mehmet Agar and his 12 friends. The commission chairman said certain things which could not be stated openly in the report could be seen by reading between the lines, and asked everybody to read the report closely
  • Second Report: Those facts the commission chose not to see have been listed one by one by the two ANAP representatives in the commission. It is that "second report" which reveals many connections extending to the TL 500 billion which Ciller had spent from the slush fund
  • Job Losses: To prevent the investigation from going higher, the government ensured that Mehmet Agar resigned as interior minister. Then Kemal Yazicioglu was dismissed as the security director for Istanbul. Even a Turkish Telecom official lost his position in that process
  • Government Drags On, So Does Social Restlessness
  • ELECTION WAIT: There are predictions that the coalition will continue until Refah wants to go to elections. Refah still has assets to keep the government going and give certain benefits to the people to prepare favorable conditions for its success in an election.
  • SPOT SECRETS AND NATIONALISM: Political parties' concerns were shifted to a plundering of the Turkes heritage. Ultra-nationalist discourse was all the more welcome at a time when 'national secrets' had to be highly respected. After all, the Susurluk case had a lot to do with 'all for the sake of the nation' discourse too
  • The Week in Perspective
  • Focus on Human Rights

    Turkes Jr. Faces Hard Times Ahead


    By Hayri Birler

    Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Alparslan Turkes, who served in Turkish politics for more than 30 years, has left behind not only weeping millions but also the legacy of a "leadership dilemma," the solution of which is not yet known.

    Although the MHP, without aligning with another party, won 2.3 million votes in the general election in December 1995, it lost the chance to enter Parliament because it failed by nearly two percentage points to exceed the 10 percent election requirement. The intraparty disputes which took place before the election played a significant role in losing that opportunity, but the blame, however indirectly, was placed on Alparslan Turkes.

    The main reason for these intraparty disputes came to light after Turkes placed his son Tugrul Turkes and two of his sons-in-law at the top of the candidate lists in the MHP stronghold provinces. Turkes' "discriminatory" attitude caused deep friction within the party, and forced him to take a step backward by withdrawing his family members from the candidate list. However, the fracture in the party leadership could not be repaired, and the crisis reached a point where some high-level party officials even threatened to resign. It was this situation prior to the 1995 election which caused the MHP to lose the opportunity to represent itself in Parliament.

    Before Turkes' death, the MHP was planning to hold a Grand Congress in June 1997. While calling on the center-right parties to unite, the old chief was already giving signals about quitting his post as party chairman. Turkes, who was popularly called "Basbug," which means "sole military and political leader" in Central Asia, the fatherland of the Turks, was actually preparing to leave his post to his son, Tugrul. Meanwhile Tugrul Turkes began to appear in public with a new image: he shaved his moustache, adopted a softer and more reconciliatory attitude during political discussion programs on television, and used a political jargon different from any used by the MHP in the past.

    The unexpected demise of Alparslan Turkes has suddenly exposed a disagreement which had until then been hidden within the party. The majority of the MHP leadership and the members of the MHP's "Ulkucu" youth organizations were not ready to accept Tugrul Turkes as their new leader. It had already been agreed that no one could replace Alparslan Turkes as Basbug, but rather only as the new MHP chairman. But most importantly, the new leader had to be an Ulkucu, meaning that he must grasp the principles of the party's nationalist standards. According to them, Tugrul Turkes could never become an Ulkucu. Due to the recent occurrence of Turkes' death, neither MHP officials nor the Ulkucus want to discuss a replacement. However, political party law stipulates that a new party chairman must be elected within 45 days.

    Rumors have spread from MHP headquarters, and Ulkucu organizations stress that Tugrul Turkes must win the support of Muharrem Semsek, the former chairman of the Ulkucu Organizations Association and a former MP. Semsek carries considerable weight in every part of the party organization, and the group loyal to Semsek does not want Tugrul Turkes to take over the office of party chairman. This is because he never took an active role within the "Ulkucu struggle," and more significantly, because he was "freely and irresponsibly" strolling around after the 1980 military coup, while so many Ulkucus were imprisoned.

    According to the MHP grassroots, Alparslan Turkes had been accepted as the "Basbug" of the nationalist movement, but his son cannot replace him. What then, can be done?

    If Tugrul Turkes wants to be elected as the new party chief, he must have the backing of Muharrem Semsek and his group. This support can only be gained if neither Semsek nor any of his supporters runs for that office. That seems to be the only way the junior Turkes can leave the next Grand Congress in triumph. The same rumor mentioned above also says that such a development is not completely impossible. It is said that Semsek and the other Ulkucus may not see the leadership struggle as a "one-round-match," but predict a future power takeover by increasing their influence within the party organization.

    It can be seen very clearly that a dispute within the party just before the Grand Congress can spell disaster. Such a possibility is even stronger if Semsek and his group come up with a rival candidate, but lose the race to Tugrul Turkes. Under these conditions, a dispute within the party can only benefit Muhsin Yazicioglu, who left the MHP and formed the Grand Unity Party (BBP) several years ago.

    The results of the leadership race in the MHP interest not only the MHP and the BBP, but also the center-right True Path Party (DYP), Motherland Party (ANAP), and even the Islamist Welfare Party (RP). If any of these other parties wins the largest portion of the MHP's 8-10 percent vote potential, they could easily come to power in a political atmosphere where any party can be placed on the front line with a two to three percent difference. That is why the leaders of these parties try not to act in a way that will infuriate the MHP leadership.

    A recent attitude displayed by ANAP leader Mesut Yilmaz and his aides toward former Ulkucu background on the Susurluk incident provoked a reaction on the part of the MHP grassroots. The man who punched Yilmaz in the face in Budapest a few months ago was an Ulkucu. This is why many do not predict a possible voter switch to ANAP. On the contrary, they expect a movement of nationalist voters from ANAP to the MHP, if the MHP leadership is comprised of former Ulkucus.

    Unlike ANAP, the DYP can be considered in a more fortunate position in terms of the formation of MHP's new leadership. This is due to the fact that DYP leader Tansu Ciller and her party members who have an Ulkucu background had the same attitude as that of the MHP toward Abdullah Catli, an Ulkucu terrorist suspect who died in the Susurluk accident. The DYP's position was considered to be closer to that of the MHP than ANAP's stance.

    Meanwhile, religion constitutes a significant factor for the MHP electorate in the distant Anatolian provinces. That, naturally, is considered an advantage for the Islamist RP to win their votes.

    The MHP's new leadership structure is expected to determine the fate of the MHP electorate's votes. While other parties anticipate drawing large shares from that 8-10 percent voting potential for their own benefit, they also take the risk of losing their voters with nationalist backgrounds to the MHP.

    Senior officials in the party are currently preparing themselves for the Grand Congress where, not the new Basbug but the new MHP chairman will be elected. The only fact that assessment points out is that hard times await the junior Turkes.


    Turkish Nationalists Lose Their Leader


    By Ilnur Cevik

    The death of Alparslan Turkes, the veteran warrior of the ultranationalist Grey Wolves, has left a huge power vacuum which will be hard to fill.

    Turkes, born in Nicosia, Cyprus in 1917 as "Huseyin Feyzullah", was a graduate of the Turkish Military Academy.

    During the 1940s he was arrested and tried on grounds of promoting extreme right wing propaganda in favor of Pan-Turk (Turan) ideals, that is, the dream of the union of all the Turkic peoples on the planet. Later, he graduated from the War College.

    He was one of the coauthors of the May 1960 coup. Turkes, then a colonel, was the strong man of the military regime. But not for very long. He and his 15 other friends, members of the National Unity committee were banished in November 1960 and sent into exile abroad.

    After staying several years in New Delhi as a counsellor at the Turkish Embassy, he returned to Turkey and started his political contacts.

    The moribund Republican Peasants Nation Party (CKMP) appeared to him as a suitable starting point.

    He first succeeded in becoming its chairman, then in 1969, he convinced his friends to change the name of their organization, which was to become the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

    Staunchly anti-communist and favoring a strong state, Turkes set up the anti-left squads composed of his young nationalist followers.

    He stated that he encouraged the activities of his young militants, called Grey Wolves "commandos," in their bid to save the country from the "Marxist threat."The Grey Wolves were the major force in the clash between the right-wing and left-wing students during the bloody incidents which led to the 1980 coup.

    His "Nine Lights" became the Red Book of Turkish nationalism, the opponents of which did not fail to suspect its fascist tendencies.

    His supporters set up the "Ulku Ocaklari" (the Idealists Clubs) who became the main ultranationalist force in the incidents before the 1980 military takeover.

    Only three-men strong in April 1975, the MHP of Turkes secured two cabinet seats in Demirel's coalition government. Turkes was at once in a top spot.

    Turkes's MHP did well in the June 1977 elections, tripling the number of its votes and quintupling its deputy seats.

    Now more sure of himself, Turkes started urging a policy of peaceful understanding between ideological movements. But his opponents still suspected his authoritarian ideals and, remembering well Goethe's famous work, believed that Turkes' armed followers could be very harmful, even to him, just like the relations of Goethe's hero Faust with Mephisto.

    After the 1977 elections, however, Republican People's Party (CHP) chief Bulent Ecevit came to power and became the chief adversary of both Turkes and his ultranationalist organizations.

    Even many controversial ultranationalist personalities like the Susurluk scandal figure Abdullah Catli were among the MHP militants of those days.

    There was speculation that the ultranationalist groups had gotten out of hand and Turkes could not control them any longer.

    Turkes had very close ties with Suleyman Demirel, the prime minister, who was toppled by the 1980 coup.

    After the coup, Turkes managed to evade arrest but finally gave himself up to military authorities. He was tried for his life for ordering the deaths of left-wing supporters, but was acquitted.

    He returned to politics after the bans against former politicians were lifted in 1987. He entered the Nationalist Work Party (MCP) and became its chairman on Oct. 4, 1987. Later the name of the party was changed to MHP again.

    He was elected back into Parliament in 1987 when his party set up an election alliance with the Welfare Party (Refah) in 1991.

    Turkes faced dissent when a group of deputies with more Islamic tendencies led by Muhsin Yazicioglu resigned from the party and set up the Grand Unity Party (BBP). This was the start of divisions in the movement led by Turkes.

    Before the 1995 elections Turkes was mislead by Motherland Party leader Mesut Yilmaz, who promised to set up a election alliance with the MHP but then ditched him.

    In the elections, Turkes was shocked when his party received only 8.5 percent of the national votes and could not enter the Parliament, because it needed to win at least 10 percent of the vote to produce seats according to elections law.

    In recent months both Yilmaz and True Path Party (DYP) Tansu Ciller leader were trying to court Turkes and win the backing of his ultranationalists. Turkes himself was annoyed with the rise of the Islamists and felt this was hurting the nationalist cause in Turkey as the Islamists talk about the interests of the Islamic community and do not have a nationalistic punch.


    Business world wishes for MHP leader Turkes


    by M. Akif Beki

    The death of charismatic leader Alparslan Turkes troubled the Turkish business world as well as the political.Even many of the businessmen who debated with him during his life are now speaking of him as a respectable character in the wake of his death.

    The noted businessman Bulent Eczacibasi, chairman of the High Advisory Council of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD), said: "We will remember him all the time with deep respect and good will."

    Eczacibasi went on to say that he was saddened at the untimely death of Turkes, and added "we know that we lost one of the most important characters of the near past, and a charismatic leader of the political arena."

    Another considerable message came from noted industrialist Sakip Sabanci, who was involved in political polemics with the dead MHP leader last year.

    The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which was led by Turkes until the day of his death, roundly criticized Sabanci due to a report commissioned by Sabanci regarding the Southeast problem.

    Sabanci, who is interested in social questions as well as economic issues, prepared a report concerning social, cultural, and economic conditions in the Southeast region where a serious war is going on between Turkish security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Worker Party (PKK) terrorist organization.

    The report sponsored by Sabanci argued that bloody clashes cannot be ended just via military policies; Sabanci used the report to suggest many proposals to the civil society and in particular the decision- makers.

    Among the Sabanci report's contents was an appeal for more freedom for the people of the region, in terms of allowing them to keep alive their own cultural and traditional values, and to print publications and radio broadcasts in Kurdish in the name of human rights and domestic peace.

    Additionally, the Sabanci report presented many suggestions concerning economic precautions which he recommended should be taken by the government, and called on the business world to make serious investments in the Southeast region of Turkey, which he described as necessary to end the troubles. Because economic questions were seen as basic to the continuance of the conflict, Sabanci recommended they be addressed as a way of ending the bloody war.Turkes' message of warning

    These proposals provoked a serious debate, with the most vituperative reaction coming from MHP leader Turkes. Turkes criticized Sabanci, and issued him a public warning that "this is not your business, to produce solution proposals for the Southeast issue, a critical question dealing with whether Turkey's territorial unity be divided or not.You are exceeding the limits, so take more care."

    After this warning discussions on the report produced by Sabanci ended.But today Sabanci said he prays for the dead nationalist, and uses kind language when speaking of him.

    "Yes, he criticized me, but this event does not change my ideas about him and his struggle," Sabanci said recently, when reminded of Turkes' warning in retort to his proposals. "Alparslan Turkes was a respectable political leader whose most important quality was being a decisive politician. He used directly to say 'no' for an impossible issue, while clearly say 'yes' for possible things. This is what I attribute as a great importance of the characteristic quality of Alparslan Turkes."

    In addition, the business world is now watching closely to see who will take over the reins of the ultranationalist MHP in the power vacuum left by Turkes' death. Businessmen are avoiding to comment on post-Turkes era, while Tugrul Turkes, son of the legendary leader is seen as the favorite of the business world due to being perceived as a liberal person who will be able to continue transforming the ultranationalist movement from extremism to center right.


    The Two Shades of Green

  • Rebellion Threat: Devoid of popular support, a crisis in administration willalways be under threat of military interventions or popular rebellions
  • Representation Crisis: If Labor Unions, organizations of civil servants, youth and women's organizations, universities and intellectuals cannotinfluence politics, there must be a crisis of representation
    By Dogu Ergil

    The atmosphere of siege is once more becoming denser in Turkey. People feel trapped between the mosque and the military barracks. Neither is a democratic institution. They cannot be, either by definition or by nature. But adherents of both institutions want to establish their domination over the other and want the rest of society to fall in line with them, not the other. This totalistic and reductionist stance leaves no room for free choice, conciliation of different groups and differing opinions. The democratic position is lost, together with the common ground on which differing views can work out a consensual coexistence.

    So if the barracks insist on secularism without democracy, knowingly or unknowingly they will continue replacing popular with unpopular will. The same is true for the adherents of the mosque: If they insist on shariah law, they seem to be ready to trade freedom with dogma and the absolute authority to upholdit. Both positions are authoritarian and dictatorial. What differs is their legitimization of their arguments and ideologies. Fundamentalism shows its face in both cases.

    Secularist or anti-secularist, fundamentalist positions deny each other. They leave no room for the "other." They do not try to understand why the other position exists. If they did, they would probably understand their reason for being is the other's insufficiency in satisfying public need. They hate each other. But they do not know one another. None of them know Turkey. They just imagine they do. They live in an imaginary world at the center of which they stand. They demonize the other and look at each other as deviants to be got rid of. The practise and culture of conciliation does not develop. The authoritarian political center is reinforced by both secular and anti-secular fundamentalists.

    This authoritarian position is expected of religious fundamentalists anyway, but what about the secularists? Their insistence on secularism without democracy further reinforces the authoritarianism of the state and definitely diminishes popular support for it. The secularists can never rally support for a closed state system which breeds corruption, cruelty, inefficiency and arbitrary rule. Secularism is not and should not be the price to pay for a political structure withailments. Such ailments dynamite the very foundations of the democratic state.

    Unless the system removes the existing obstacles between the popular demands of diverse groups and representative organs, the crisis of representation will remain intact. Periodic elections and limited number of choices produced in Parliament are not enough to make a society democratic. The civil domain must have unobstructed access to political institutions. If Labor Unions, organizations of civil servants, youth and women's organizations, universities and intellectuals cannot influence politics, there must be a crisis of representation.

    A crisis of representation leads to ossification in the administration and sooner or later to an ensuing crisis of administration. Prolonged crises of representation and administration will end up generating a crisis of legitimacy. "Who will rule? How? In whose name?", will be constant queries with few satisfying answers.

    The inability of the electors to reach the political decision making centers and affect them will reduce politics to intra-governmental or intra-parliamentary activities. Devoid of popular support, a crisis in administration will always be under threat of military interventions or popular rebellions. Both responses are anti-democratic and are prone to violence or the threat of violence. An unorganized (or insufficiently organized) society which cannot influence the political domain effectively and peacefully -- this also means collectively -- is always faced with the threat of being led by an organized minority who would not refrain from using force.

    A lack of realistic policies to serve as the building blocks of politics will lead to existing political cadres starting to build the road of anti-politics. This road soon becomes a tank passage.

    When tanks enter the political stage, it means that politicshave become a battleground rather than a forum of negotiation, conciliation and cohabitation. So, whatever the choice of the individual is, secular or anti-secular, what is critical for democracy is under which conditions these positions have emerged and are expressing themselves? If the climate in which political positions are formed and expressed is intolerant, exclusive and violent, then democracy will be unable to breed and breathe. Neither will the democrat!....


    Facts Not Mentioned in the Susurluk Report

  • Between the Lines: The Susurluk Commission limited the state-gang connection to Mehmet Agar and his 12 friends. The commission chairman said certain things which could not be stated openly in the report could be seen by reading between the lines, and asked everybody to read the report closely
  • Second Report: Those facts the commission chose not to see have been listed one by one by the two ANAP representatives in the commission. It is that "second report" which reveals many connections extending to the TL 500 billion which Ciller had spent from the slush fund
  • Job Losses: To prevent the investigation from going higher, the government ensured that Mehmet Agar resigned as interior minister. Then Kemal Yazicioglu was dismissed as the security director for Istanbul. Even a Turkish Telecom official lost his position in that process
    By Kemal Balci

    A hundred and fifty five days after a road accident in Susurluk triggered the "state gang" claims, we have in our hands two reports dealing with the "police-mafia-politician triangle." The first one is the official report of the relevant parliamentary research commission which came to be known as the "Susurluk Commission." This is a report contested by six of the commission's nine members. The second one is the report prepared by two members of the commission, a report revealing the facts which the majority of the commission members -- who were from the ruling parties -- chose to close their eyes to when drafting the official report.

    Commission Chairman Mehmet Elkatmis of the Welfare Party (RP) felt the need to underline one thing when he disclosed the official commission report. His remarks indicated that the things which could not be mentioned directly in the report had been hidden between the lines. He said, "Those who read the report carefully, especially the 300-page supplements annexed to it, will find everything they are looking for." The official commission report has been drafted by taking into consideration the sensitive balance between the coalition partners, meticulously preventing any attempt to link the "gangs within the state" to the Ciller family.

    The gravest assessment made in the official report can be seen on page 298. In that part the report says, "It has been seen that the names of the persons against whom a prosecutor's report has been prepared (to have them stripped of their legislative immunity) and the persons against whom lawsuits have been filed, come up together in all the relevant incidents. It is understood that this unity and togetherness is not a coincidence, that the policemen among the defendants had not been assigned merely to serve as guards, that those persons had gathered together deliberately for a specific purpose -- in other words, persons wanted by the state for a variety of crimes, casino operators, some administrators and politicians, and some members of the Special Operations Department had formed an organization for criminal purposes."

    Of the persons mentioned in the official report, law fugitive Abdullah Catli and police director Huseyin Kocadag lost their lives in the Susurluk incident. The highest-ranking person cited in the report, Mehmet Agar, has been made to step down as interior minister. If stripped of his legislative immunity, Agar, a True Path Party (DYP) deputy, will be tried at the Istanbul State Security Court. Another DYP deputy, Sedat Bucak, survived the Susurluk incident with injuries. Bucak is the chief of a large clan in Sanliurfa whose members account for a significant part of the region's village guards. The relevant prosecutors have drafted reports formally asking Parliament to strip Agar and Bucak of their legislative immunity so that they can be put on trial. But Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan has kept these reports in his office for two months without relaying them to Parliament.

    Of those persons allegedly constituting the "mafia wing of the gang," Fevzi Bir surrendered to the police a few days ago. He was sought by the police for smuggling narcotics into the United States. Bir defends himself by saying, "I did it all for my country." Casino owner Sami Hostan, who has a criminal record as a narcotics smuggler, is still at large. Also at large is Haluk Kirci, "one of the hit men of the gang" implicated in several massacres in the past. Kirci had attended Catli's funeral and took part by phone in some TV programs in the recent past. Ibrahim Sahin, the former head of the Special Operations Department, turned himself in after evading the law for a long time. The implicated policemen affiliated with the Special Operations Department have been arrested. These policemen had been assigned to DYP deputy Sedat Bucak as guards by the government. To sum up, the official report has limited its accusations to only these above-mentioned 12 people.The alternative report refers to other facts

    Yasar Topcu and Metin Oney, the opposition Motherland Party (ANAP) representatives in the commission, have prepared an alternative report in which they underlined those facts omitted in the official report. Here are striking excerpts from their report:

    * With Mehmet Eymur's return to the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and a discreet amendment made in the Pension Fund Law in 1995, all (more than 650) trained MIT personnel were eliminated and replaced with new recruits. The result was that the MIT focused on "special intelligence" rather than "state wide intelligence."

    * Since 1994 there has been an abnormal increase in the slush fund of the General Directorate of Security, with even part of the TL 500 trillion withdrawn from the Prime Ministry slush fund at the beginning of 1996 being used in these affairs, that is, to form these relationships.

    * The number of casinos have increased since 1992, opening their doors to Turks too. Their daily earnings came to be expressed somewhere in the $3-5 million range.

    * Omer Lutfu Topal, dubbed the "casino king" was permitted to open 13 casinos despite the fact that he had been jailed in the United States on several occasions for narcotics smuggling.

    * It is inconceivable that the political authorities of the time were unaware of or unconnected with the actions undertaken jointly by the "civilian strike force" which was obviously brought together during Mehmet Agar's time as director general of security and the "Special Team strike force."

    * The two guns found in the possession of Nurettin Guven, who was apprehended in London with a green (privileged) passport, were not investigated by the Turkish police despite claims that these had been registered issue of the General Directorate of Security.

    * Erol Evcil, a 30-year-old implicated as the person who had ordered the assassination of businessman Nesim Malki in a tip-off the commission received, has been found to have used a $27.2 million Is Bankasi credit as well as credits obtained from the following banks in the amounts specified: $15.8 million from Interbank, $12.5 million from Turk Ticaret Bankasi, $4 million from Egebank, $1.2 million from Emlakbank, $1 million from Toprakbank, and TL 1.5 trillion from, once again, Turk Ticaret Bankasi. Yet, the commission has not looked into his potential ties with members of the government.

    * The BMW car, the car phone and 9 mm revolver of a person named Osman Gunduz who fled after he had a shootout with the police in Gebze on Dec. 1, 1994, have not been investigated. The car in question was used afterwards by the General Directorate of Security until July 18, 1996. The commission report does not refer to this issue.

    * Senar Er, who was heard by the commission, said he had tipped off Mehmet Agar about "repentant" outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant Alaaddin Kanat as the person who had abducted his father for ransom, but that Kanat was released after being apprehended. The commission did not investigate this issue and did not refer to it in its report.

    * The names mentioned in the bank accounts of Mahmut Yildirim, alias Ahmet Demir using the "Yesil" code-name (implicated in political killings and abductions for ransom), have not been investigated. And the connection with the assassination of two Iranians has been overlooked.

    * Though court records indicate that Omer Lutfu Topal had obtained money from Akbank to pay for the ship he had bought from Belgium for $65 million, this issue has not been investigated by the commission. It has not been determined whether that was a money laundering operation.


    Government Drags On, So Does Social Restlessness

  • ELECTION WAIT: There are predictions that the coalition will continue until Refah wants to go to elections. Refah still has assets to keep the government going and give certain benefits to the people to prepare favorable conditions for its success in an election.
  • SPOT SECRETS AND NATIONALISM: Political parties' concerns were shifted to a plundering of the Turkes heritage. Ultra-nationalist discourse was all the more welcome at a time when 'national secrets' had to be highly respected. After all, the Susurluk case had a lot to do with 'all for the sake of the nation' discourse too
    By Sirma Evcan

    Has there been an escalation of social tension in the country since the last National Security Council (MGK) meeting on March 31? Not really. On the contrary expectations about a military coup or an immediate intervention into government affairs by utilizing certain sanctions, were reduced when the MGK dwelt mainly with internal security issues as the government introduced a package for solving the economic, social and cultural problems in Turkey's Southeast. Other issues were left to the next MGK meeting when the timetable given to the government would expire and an in-depth assessment of which of the MGK recommendations were implemented by the government and to what degree.

    However the media didn't take very seriously the government's project concerning the Southeast (the so-called 'compassion package' because many such packages were introduced with no follow up in the past seven years). Top-ranking army officers time and again reiterated their concern regarding threats against the secular character of the Turkish Republic while President Suleyman Demirel hadn't missed any opportunity to emphasize Turkey's path being towards modernity.

    The coalition between the Islamist Welfare (Refah) and True Path (DYP) parties, meanwhile, was confronted with the comprehensive and yet incomplete report the Parliamentary commission had prepared on the Susurluk case. The commission chairman from Refah, Mehmet Elkatmis, admitted that he didn't actually have a clear conscience because some of those allegedly involved with the 'police-politician-mafia' links wouldn't say all they knew while others, called by the commission, didn't turn up at all.

    Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Alpaslan Turkes' death immediately changed the country's agenda. In fact, political parties' concerns were shifted to a plundering of the Turkes heritage. Ultra-nationalist discourse was all the more welcome at a time when 'national secrets' had to be highly respected. After all, the Susurluk case had a lot to do with 'all for the sake of the nation' discourse too.

    Refah too had to watch out because 'Turkes heritage' wasn't something to be underestimated. Plus, a nationalist -- Islamist conflict was the last thing Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakanwould want when he is already fighting on many fronts. DYP Chairwoman Tansu Ciller has become an expert on 'nationalist discourse' by now and the main opposition Motherland Party (ANAP) has in itself strong nationalist representatives. The Grand Unity Party (BBP) had nourished religious and nationalist sentiments. Erbakan had to be very careful, and maybe especially on the subject of 'eight-year basic education' as the MGK wanted.

    The Refah-DYP coalition is currently working from both sides to settle the 'eight year' controversy. In a counter attack to DYP's 'uninterrupted' eight year basic education drive in accordance with the MGK decision, Refah prepared another report defending five plus three years basic education. The Refah report, prepared by the party's Erzurum deputy Associate Professor Omer Ozyilmaz, argued that children will be faced with the danger they referred to as a 'slip of personality' if the basic education continued for eight years without an interruption. "After the first five years, the student will be free to choose the subject she/he felt more inclined to, the Imam Hatip religious education included." The Refah report also argued that compulsory basic education for eight years would also be 'against science.' Refah also wants Kuran and Hadis courses in primary education, but isn't insisting on Arabic, because this course would require expertise.

    A solution to the basic education controversy will likely be delayed when other issues like court annulment of the Interior Ministry's decision to sack the police chief, or in-party disputes in the DYP (viewed as the harbinger of a break up in the coalition) will continue to be discussed more in the coming week.

    The DYP leadership meanwhile looks determined not to allow any in-party opposition to the coalition. The two DYP ministers, namely Yalim Erez and Yildirim Aktuna have reportedly decided to leave the DYP if Ciller doesn't end the coalition. In addition, to these two ministers, there is pressure on Kilis deputy Dogan Gures (former chief of Staff) from certain circles to resign from the DYP. These and other rumors revolving around scenarios on the DYP lead to further speculations about the future of the coalition.

    The question of whether it will be the DYP to end the coalition or the Refah hasn't been answered yet. But the discussion carries on. There are predictions that the coalition will continue until the time Refah wants to go to elections. Refah still has assets to keep the government going and give certain benefits to the people to prepare favorable conditions for its success in an election. Refah is said to be making a timetable for elections when Erbakan's period ends and Ciller's turn to take over the prime ministry come. Ciller is certainly taking all these possibilities into consideration when making her own moves, and the recent move against the in-party opposition can be assessed within this framework. Ciller is reportedly making plans for a cabinet reshuffle in the DYP wing of the coalition too. In this manner she hopes to keep the party intact and deputies in expectation of ministerial positions.

    As the government drags on and both partners of the coalition carefully watch each other's moves while at the same time strive to keep stability in their parties, some of the opposition parties are deeply engaged in making calculations for the next government. And the leadership of opposition parties utilize their government aspirations to keep their deputies in their respective ranks.

    Prime Minister Erbakan is meeting with party leaders to ease the atmosphere and obtain support on certain sensitive issues vis a vis Refah grass-roots. He was reported to have complained against the previous governments to ANAP Chairman Mesut Yilmaz saying that 'things have gone out of control, there are holes in each place I turn to.' Could this be assessed as holding Yilmaz' pulse about a Refah-ANAP coalition?

    The society is still restless, the 'one minute darkness for eternal light' campaign is launched for a second time. This campaign will continue until the end of the month and end in due time before the next MGK meeting.


    The Week in Perspective


    April 3
  • Bulent Tanla, Gokhan Capoglu and Bekir Yurdagul, three deputies from the Democratic Left Party are expelled from the party for allegedly attempting to found a new party.
  • French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette meets his Turkish counterpart Tansu Ciller in Ankara at the start of a brief visit to Turkey.
  • Dutch Foreign Minister Hans Van Mierlo arrives in Ankara for talks on Turkish-EU and Turkish-Greek ties.
  • North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Franz Josef Kniola says the arson attack in Krefeld where three Turks died was probably not a racist attack.
  • Turkey's ambassador to Germany is summoned to the Bonn foreign ministry and given a letter from the government blasting accusations by Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan that Germany condones human rights abuses against Muslims.
  • Greece rejects an EU-inspired proposal for mediation in its disputes with Turkey.
  • The head of the Parliamentary committee set up to investigate the matter issues its "Susurluk Report" on state-underworld ties.
  • President Suleyman Demirel arrives in Slovenia for an official visit.
  • Mehmet Emin Aga, recently elected Mufti of Iskece (Xanthi) in Western Thrace, is sentenced to 20 months in prison by a Greek court.April 4
  • Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Alparslan Turkes is taken to hospital late at night after a heart attack and later pronounced dead.
  • Frits Bolkestein, the head of the Dutch Liberal Party, says Turkey, Russia and Ukraine should not be allowed to join the European Union because they do not fit the traditional profile of the 15-member western bloc.
  • German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel criticised Turkish political leaders for anti-German remarks made after the arson attack in Krefeld.
  • Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Kalemli visits Athens at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Apostlos Kaklamanis.
  • The husband of a Turkish woman who was killed along with two of their children when their apartment in Krefeld, Germany, caught fire is arrested as the suspected arsonist. Bonn says it hopes Turkey will adopt a softer tone against Germany after the arrest.
  • Bulgarian Foreign Minister Stoyan Stalev arrives in Istanbul for talks with Turkish officials.
  • Mehmet Elkatmis, the head of Parliament's "Susurluk Commission" tells a news conference that two government MPs, Mehmet Agar and Sedat Bucak, are implicated in the State-mafia link scandal.
  • Interior Minister Meral Aksener installs her newly appointed Police Chief, Kemal Celik, in his office after a "midnight operation" in the very early hours of the day, after Police Chief Alaattin Yuksel, citing irregularities in the appointment and with presidential backing, refuses to leave his seat.April 5
  • General Cevik Bir, the Turkish army's second-in-command, tells the Washington Post that the struggle with anti-secular groups in Turkey has taken precedence over the struggle against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).April 7
  • Dutch Foreign Minister Hans Von Mierlo and Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Omer Akbel criticize the comments of Dutch Liberal Party leader Frits Bolkestein that Turkey cannot be a member of the EU.
  • A draft law granting migrant workers entitlement to old-age pension without having to permanently return to Turkey is returned to Parliament by President Suleyman Demirel.
  • Israel says that trade with Turkey could quadruple by the year 2000 under a free trade accord ratified by the Turkish Parliament.
  • Yasar Oz, the brother-in-law of Abdullah Catli of "Susurluk fame," is arrested in connection with underworld activities.
  • General Cevik Bir, the Turkish army's second-in-command says in comments published in Milliyet that the military does not want a greater role in politics, despite ordering the government to crack down on Islamist activism.April 8
  • Over 100,000 people gathered in heavy snow in Ankara for the funeral of MHP leader Alparslan Turkes.
  • Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy arrives in Ankara for official talks and is received by Islamist Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan after heated debates on whether this meeting would take place.
  • The Council of State puts a stay of execution on Interior Minister Meral Aksener's removal from office of Police Chief Alattin Yuksel to be replaced by Hakkari Governor Kemal Celik
  • Interior Minister Aksener has ordered provincial governors to begin immediate enforcement of a military-sponsored crackdown on Islamist activism, a ministry official tells Reuters.April 9
  • Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy leaves Turkey after meetingmain opposition leader Mesut Yilmaz with a pro-Palestinian reprimand from Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan the evening before.

    Focus on Human Rights


    US Helsinki Commission: Prosecution can nix torture in Turkey

    A sparsely-attended U.S. Congressional hearing on torture in Turkey concluded last week that there were enough laws on the books to prevent torture if only those who are responsible were prosecuted and the existing laws were implemented.

    At the hearing organized by the Helsinki Commission, the Congressional arm of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Holly Cartner, executive director of Human Rights Watch/Helsinki; Erik Holst, president of the Rehabilitation and Research Center for Torture Victims; and Douglas Johnson, executive director of the Center for Victims of Torture, testified.

    The hearing highlighted the trial of rehabilitation center workers in Adana.

    Johnson said if Turkey prosecuted the perpetrators "torture would stop overnight." He said the roots of torture could be traced back to a culture and tolerance of domestic violence in Turkey. Referring to a survey of 30 forensic doctors in Turkey, Johnson said 75 percent of the doctors did not recognize beating as a form of torture.

    Dr. Holst said "continued international pressure is necessary to convince Turkish authorities that the world cannot tolerate or excuse the use of torture for any reason by law enforcement agents in a member country of the Council of Europe and a member country of NATO."IHD says abuses continue despite law

    A Turkish rights group has said human rights abuses were continuing in Turkey despite a new law enacted to improve the country's rights record.

    Turkey, last month, passed a law cutting the maximum period a suspect can be held without charges to 10 from 30 days in the nine emergency rule provinces and to seven from 14 days in the rest of the country.

    "After this legal change, there has not been any decrease in the use of torture," according to the March report of the Human Rights Association (IHD). The IHD report said 12 people had applied to the group in March claiming they had been tortured, up from three in February.

    "This clearly shows the direction which things are taking," IHD spokesman Mehmet Ekinci said.

    Turkey has touted the new detention law as proof that it is taking European concerns over its human rights record seriously.

    The March report also said one person had died as a result of police gunfire, 23 prisoners had been beaten in prison or in court, 14 journalists arrested and 29 publications confiscated. .


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