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11-22-2010, 03:10 PM
Turkey: AK Party bursts out against former US envoy's coup-loving remarks


Istanbul, (Today's Zaman):

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) made a strong reaction against former US Ambassador in Ankara Eric Edelman for depicting military coups as justifiable in Turkey during a speech he delivered at the beginning of this week.

In response to Edelman's remarks, AK Party's Foreign Affairs Chairman Omar Çelik issued a written statement on Thursday and said the former envoy employed a provocative discourse displaying groundless claims he formulated without the necessary knowledge of current developments in Turkey. “That Edelman defended the military coups in today's world through making a distinction like good democracy - bad democracy and good coups - bad coups with a cold war mentality that is the result of an ideological fanaticism,” said Çelik, adding that Edelman “exhibited an attitude that is against the very democratic principles of the US he is a citizen of, precluding all universal values by advocating the military coups.”

Addressing the audience at a conference titled “A changing Middle East: Iran, Turkey and Prospects for Peace” organized by the Foreign Policy Initiative in Washington D.C. on Monday, Edelman called Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan “a virtual dictator” and added that the military in Turkey does not aspire to rule, despite the fact that the country suffered from four coups in just 37 years between 1960 and 1997. Further arguing that the ruling AK Party has become “increasingly authoritarian,” he said the US must stop “coddling” the Turkish government and pay more attention to strengthening ties with the opposition parties, naming in particular the Republican People's Party's (CHP) Kemal Kýlýçdaroðlu as someone with whom the US should always keep in touch.

What appeared to be motivated by unease at Turkey's increasing influence in the Middle East, which sometimes puts it at odds with US policies, particularly its growing criticism of the Israeli policies, Edelman targeted the Erdoðan government and the current democratization efforts, including a referendum held over two months ago. The referendum's results were widely-lauded both inside and outside of Turkey, including in the European Union (EU), which Turkey aspires to join. According to the former American envoy, who represented the US between 2003 and 2005 under the George W. Bush administration, that the Turkish military stepped down after a 3-year-rule following the violent intervention in 1980 showed how much it respects the will of the nation. The former US envoy's interpretation of the events 30 years ago, however, fell far short of reflecting all of the aspects of the intervention, missing almost all the facts pertaining to the anti-democratic act against which only recently people were given the right to file criminal complaints, a right used by thousands of Turkish citizens in the past two months.

In fact, the 1980 coup left a heavy human and material cost behind it. No newspaper was able to be published for 300 days following the takeover and prosecutors demanded some 4,000 years of prison for about 400 journalists in total, it is today known that 650,000 people were detained, 388,000 people were denied the right to have a passport, the junta stripped 14,000 people of their citizenship and 30,000 people fled the country as political refugees after the intervention. Yet, even this long record of the violent coup does not include the fact that 7,000 people were tried with a death penalty and the courts ordered the execution of 517 of them.

“The mentality Edelman represents is pursuit of a void hope of shadowing Turkey's high democratization performance and the adherence of our prime minister, party and the government to democratic values by labeling Turkey's powerful and visionary foreign policy as an “axis shift.” Behind these efforts is a jealousy towards the presence of a Turkey whose democracy is powerful and foreign policy is visionary,” Çelik also said, lambasting the former US envoy's attitude.