Taraf columnist tells EP early to declare end of tutelage regime in Turkey

A Taraf columnist has told the European Parliament that it is too early to say that the era of military tutelage in Turkey has ended, slamming European officials for remaining silent when his former magazine was raided by the military.
Alper Görmüş, the former chief of Nokta magazine, famous for publishing the coup diaries of a Turkish admiral allegedly attempting to overthrow a democratically elected government, said during a panel discussion on Tuesday that there are still large segments of Turkish society who believe that military guardianship over Turkey is fine.

Görmüş is also a columnist for the Taraf daily — a key media outlet that has unveiled a series of coup plans drafted by senior generals and colonels to oust the legitimately elected government of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). He also said according to some public surveys, while 41 percent of Turkish society is against “an army under civilian control,” 39 percent of the public still approve of military coups in some cases.

He stressed that if those circles who define themselves as modern, but cannot embrace democracy do not change their totalitarian stance, the democratic order will not be normalized.

Görmüş, who was acquitted by the courts after he published a lengthy summary of 3,000 pages of coup diaries he said were written by former Naval Forces Commander Adm. Özden Örnek, also touts his publication of the coup diaries as a starting point for ensuing investigations and probes into the coup plans. Örnek sued Görmüş, accusing him of libel and publishing fake materials; Görmüş was later acquitted. However, his weekly, Nokta, was shut down several weeks after a police raid on their office.

According to the report, Örnek, a seasoned journal writer since 1957, recorded every detail about the plan by Land Forces Commander Gen. Aytaç Yalman, Air Forces Commander Gen. İbrahim Fırtına and Gen. Şener Eruygur — who today heads the Atatürkist Thought Association (ADD) — to stage a coup they codenamed Blonde Girl in 2004 when they were still in the military. However, they were forced to give up due to the unwillingness of some higher-ranking officers, the US’s attitude at the time and the democratic stance of Gen. Hilmi Özkök, then-chief of General Staff.

Görmüş criticized the European Union and the international community for remaining silent at the time and not reacting appropriately. He questioned what he said was an “exaggerated reaction” to the detention of journalists Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık, who were arrested earlier this year on coup charges, and compared it to his situation, on which the EU stayed silent.

Speaking at the panel discussion, EU Commission Enlargement Adviser Alain Servantie said there are far more important topics involving the Turkish media such as self-censorship and the high number of media outlets penalized for reports they have published.


04 October 2011, Tuesday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,