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09.08.2008

2003 was a year of coup plans, shows report

ERTUĞRUL MAVİOĞLU


Senior generals conducted investigations in 2003 to assess ways to initiate a campaign to topple the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, listing several red lines the government could not cross and operations to generate public pressure, a recent criminal investigation has revealed.

According to the text from a meeting of senior generals held July 15 and 16, 2003, the officers accused the AKP of attempting to topple the secular Republic to introduce fundamentalism and of attacking the military at every opportunity.  

 Among the suggestions were to get support from President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who was seen as against the AKP, with one commander arguing that the military had to take radical action within the next year and a half or accept being marginalized through the AKP's European Union reforms and the United States' backing of the government.  EU reforms are seen by the commanders as boosting the anti-secularist efforts of the government.

Among the actions to be undertaken were verbal attacks against the government through the media, insulting the prime minister in private meetings, mobilizing secularists, readjustment of the military's public relations and controlling owners of media organizations. The generals noted that retired generals should be made to stop airing their opinions on the military and the army's intelligence service should become more active.

The red lines were listed as the transfer of the Office of the Chief of General Staff from under the Prime Ministry to the Defense Ministry, lowering of the Office of the Chief of General Staff in the protocol list, allowing judicial supervision of Supreme Military Council, or YAŞ, decisions, allowing imam-hatip graduates access to military academies, allowing headscarves in state offices and weakening of the anti-terror laws.

Another report found among the documents was a study by a Turkey expert in a think tank in New York. It asked how the United States could be persuaded to stop supporting the AKP as part of its "moderate Islam" project. It said the United States supports efforts to democratize Turkey, including weakening the influence of the military. It was suggested that NGOs and ambassadors should communicate the dangers of moderate Islam to U.S. officials.

The meeting's minutes and the report were part of the indictment prepared for the Ergenekon investigation, which involved an ultra-nationalist group that tried to topple the government through creating instability to facilitate a military coup.

Previously, diaries said to belong to Adm. Özden Örnek had become public when Nokta magazine published them. In the diaries, it was claimed the force commanders in 2003 and 2004 had prepared two coup plots. Örnek denied the documents belonged to him, and Nokta was raided and then shut down even though a court eventually found the magazine not guilty.

The minutes of the meeting and the report, which were found at the home of retired Captain Muzaffer Yıldırım, who is under arrest as part of the Ergenekon investigation, seem to corroborate the diaries.

The meeting was believed to have been between Air Forces Commander Gen. İbrahim Fırtına, Navy Commander Adm. Özden Örnek, First Army Commander Hurşit Tolon, Second Army Commander Fevzi Türkeri, Third Army Commander Gen. Tamer Akbaş and Aegean Army Commander Gen. Çetin Doğan. The conversations were later compiled by Land Forces Commander Gen. Aytaç Yalman.