Though not putting it directly, President Abdullah Gül has implied that he had knowledge of a military hand in the presidential election crisis of 2007.
The president said he did not see the much-talked-about notice from a former General Staff advisor to a politician, asking him not to support then-Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül in the presidential elections, but said: “I know all details belonging to those times [presidential elections in 2007]. We all saw that many things incompatible with democracy occurred then.” Gül’s remarks came on Monday as he spoke to a group of Turkish journalists accompanying him on a plane to Poland.
Documents included on “DVD No. 51,” which was seized in the office of ex-military officer Levent Göktaş, one of the key suspects in the Ergenekon case, suggested that former Chief of General Staff retired Gen. İlker Başbuğ and the ex-leader of the Motherland Party (ANAVATAN) had made plans to disrupt the country’s 2007 presidential election.
The documents feature a short notice sent to the General Staff by Col. Turgut Ak, head of the intelligence department at the General Staff, which read that a former Başbuğ advisor had asked former ANAVATAN leader Erkan Mumcu not to support then-Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül in the presidential elections. The notice was reportedly sent to Mumcu via Associate Professor Nuran Yıldız, an informal advisor to Başbuğ.
The request reportedly came upon an order by Başbuğ. The advisor told Mumcu the military would “intervene” if Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan or Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç were elected the new president of Turkey. During the 2007 presidential elections in which ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy Gül ran for the top state post, opposition parties the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Democrat Party (DP) and ANAVATAN boycotted the elections by not attending the presidential vote in Parliament. The three parties said they opposed Gül’s election because his spouse wore the Islamic headscarf.
“Let me tell you that I know all details belonging to that era. I was not a man from outside. I was a part of the government then. I was also a deputy prime minister who was responsible for safety issues. But I did not mention anyone’s mistake to their faces after becoming a president. I did not even make an implication [that I knew about the plans behind the presidential election crisis,]” Gül told journalists.
As the number of deputies in Parliament did not reach 367 at the time of the vote on Gül’s presidency, the Constitutional Court made a controversial ruling and canceled the presidential election that Gül was certain to win. Later the AK Party called for early elections, and the newly-formed government elected Gül the new president of Turkey.
The president in addition said he would not allow what happened in the past to re-happen. “I know all the details, but I am not looking to the past. I am looking to the future. As I have always said I would not allow what happened in the past to re-happen. Turkey has many major issues which we have to shoulder together. For this reason, we should work to carry Turkey into the future without damaging our country or state. This has been my philosophy and I have always acted accordingly.”
According to Gül, a commission should be formed in Parliament after the June 12 general elections to draft a new constitution. The preparation of a new constitution to replace the existing one, which was drafted under martial law after the 1980 military coup, is expected to be Parliament’s primary issue after the elections. Gül believes that a parliamentary constitution to be formed in a manner that represents all segments of society would be successful in preparing a draft constitution. “We have a very detailed Constitution. The new document should be a brief one. Details are used to narrow down freedoms,” he said, and added both the ruling party and opposition parties can convene to discuss previous and new draft constitutions and reach a conclusion to adopt a joint document.
In response to a question over plans of a second international flotilla to sail to the Gaza Strip to take humanitarian aid to besieged Gazans, Gül responded: “Turkey has never been engaged in efforts or plans to restrict the activities of a civil society organization. We will adopt a position if any attack targets the interests of Turkey or a Turkish citizen. But as the Turkish government and state, we will not engaged in efforts to shape or organize the policies of civil society organizations.
‘Military superiors threatened Mumcu with death’
Kani Kudu, one of the closest men to ANAVATAN’s Mumcu in 2007, claimed that military superiors threatened Mumcu with capital punishment if he decided to attend the presidential vote in Parliament. “The threat of a military coup was one of the lightest threats back then. They [military superiors] said a military coup would be staged if ANAVATAN attended the presidential vote in Parliament, and the ones who attended the vote would be executed,” Kundu said.
According to Kundu, Mumcu declined to attend the vote out of the fear that he would be executed. “Mumcu was under the influence of threats. He was afraid then. And he is still afraid.” Kundu quoted a captain telling Mumcu that former President Turgut Özal and former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes were both “killed,” and no one was able to protect them.
Menderes and two of his Cabinet ministers were executed after the May 27, 1960 coup d’état. Özal reportedly died of a heart attack in 1993, and his death has so far remained a matter of controversy. Though his private doctor declared that the former president had died of a heart attack, his wife, children and close friends later alleged that he might have been poisoned.
In the meantime, Associate Professor Yıldız came into prominence recently with a column he wrote for the news portal odatv.com. The owner and some journalists of the portal were arrested earlier his year on charges of membership in the terrorist Ergenekon organization. In his column, Yıldız said he would trust Soner Yalçın, owner of the portal, and journalist Barış Pehlivan “without any reservations.”