The following are translated excerpts from articles that appeared in the Turkish press.
NEW GENOCIDE ACCUSEMENT TO TURKEY
A monument dedicated to Assyrian genocide officially opened in Sydney, Australia last Saturday. Officials from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the ceremony and declared that the monument is a bomb for those who like to damage Turkish – Australian relations.
ISRAELI MINISTER OF DEFENSE BARAK TESTIFIES
Minister Barak testified before the civilian Israeli Committee for Investigation on "Mavi Marmara" incident. Minister says: "I am responsible for all actions of Israeli Military-Defense forces. I presented the draft plan of the operation 5 days before the incident to the cabinet. "Opposition party Kadima's leader Livni distributed a press release saying: "Netanyahu's testimony on yesterday and Minister Barak's words today shows that there is no leader in Israel today".
NETANYAHU LAYS BLAME ON TURKEY
Israel's internal investigation of the killing of nine Turks on board the Mavi Marmara, which was carrying aid to Gaza under Israeli blockade, continued with testimonies. The first witness of the investigation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, argued that the operation was in line with international laws and laid the blame on Turkey. Netanyahu cited the nuclear agreement signed by Turkey, Brazil and Iran in his argument.
YARSAV (JUDGES & PROSECUTORS FOUNDATION) CHAIRMAN HELD A PRESS CONFERENCE
YARSAV (an NGO which is against the recent constitutional changes to be on vote at September 12) Chairman Eminagaoglu announced his objection to the proposed changes on Turkish Constitution, and added: "We are inviting the government to close YARSAV if YARSAV have any illegal operations. Otherwise, YARSAV is still standing on its ideology of independence of justice."
GÜL MARKS SUPREME MILITARY COUNCIL DECISIONS
President Abdullah Gül's decisions have taken effect in the Supreme Military Council's appointments, which were finally resolved after eight days of negotiations.
When it was decided that Gen. Hasan Iğsız would not become the Land Forces commander, both Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan favored Atilla Işık. But when Işık wanted to retire, Chief of Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ offered Necdet Özel as the commander of Land Forces and Aslan Güner as the commander of Gendarmerie Forces. But Gül did not want these names.
Güner has served in Ankara for the past 20 years, and Gül did not want to set a precedent for generals who have no experience in the field to become chief of staff. In Gül's view, it would be injustice to close the way of chief of staff for Özel. When this formula did not give results, Ceylanoğlu's name came to the fore. Erdal Ceylanoğlu, whom Gül did not oppose, was appointed as Land Forces commander.
DOĞAN: 'BALYOZ CASE IS A SET UP'
Former Commander of the 1st Army retired Gen. Çetin Doğan was discharged from the hospital Monday. "A cop took me into custody. He must have thought I would switch planes in the air," said Doğan, who claimed the case was a set up. "Unfortunately there are people in the Beşiktaş Courthouse who are involved in this set up." He said he ordered his lawyer to appeal to the Justice Ministry for an investigation.
CHP'S LIBERAL MANIFESTO
The new leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party seems to be dedicated to the goal of erasing "CHP's state party" image.
CHP Leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's letter, published in daily Hürriyet, was like a "liberal democracy manifesto." Kılıçdaroğlu, who emphasized that state power had to be restricted in order for democracy and individual rights and freedoms to be enhanced, said this could only be ensured through rule of law.
Kılıçdaroğlu, who pointed out that civilian supervision of the military was an indicator that the democracy was functioning well, said initially the spirit of the 1982 Constitution should be changed in Turkey's new constitution. Kılıçdaroğlu said the solution of the problems lies in liberal democracy.
TURKISH CABINET, SECURITY SUMMIT CONVENE TO DISCUSS BORDER UNITS
The government continued work Monday on the proposed special units to protect the borders of Turkey and stop the infiltrations of terrorists, mainly from Iraq.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan convened his ministers Monday to review domestic and foreign issues, including the potential consequences of the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
The Cabinet meeting was followed by a security summit chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek that reviewed the current state of the fight against terrorism and discussed what legal steps should be taken for the establishment of special border units.
The meeting was still ongoing when the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review went to press in the late afternoon.
In addition to Çiçek, relevant officials in attendance included the head of the civilian wing of the National Security Council, or MGK; National Intelligence Organization, or MİT, head Hakan Fidan; and Security and Public Order Unit coordinator Muammer Güler.
CIVIL-MILITARY STANDOFF IN TURKEY RESOLVED, FOR NOW
The surprise deal forged late Sunday between the military and the government on top army appointments has ended the current week-long standoff, but could deepen the divide between the two institutions in the long term.
Observers say the conflict sparked at this year's Supreme Military Council, or YAŞ, delivered a heavy blow to already fragile relations between the country's two main pillars.
The deal reached by outgoing Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan paves the way for current Land Forces commander Gen. Işık Koşaner to replace Başbuğ as expected.
The appointment of Gen. Erdal Ceylanoğlu as Land Forces commander, however, comes as a surprise. Ceylanoğlu, who was the commander of the 1st Army Corps based in Istanbul, will hold the position for only one year before being forced into retirement due to his age.
The deal also allows Gen. Necdet Özel to become Gendarmerie Forces commander with a clear plan to succeed Ceylanoğlu in 2011 and Koşaner in 2013.
Gazette early Monday after approval by President Abdullah Gül late Sunday.
Left behind in the deal are a dozen four-star generals whose promotions were blocked by the government for at least a year due to alleged connections to coup plotters. The military's plans to appoint Gen. Hasan Iğsız to head the Land Forces were thwarted when he became embroiled in an alleged campaign to discredit the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP.
The details of the meeting late Friday between Erdoğan and Başbuğ have not been made public, sparking many speculations about the deal. The appointment of Ceylanoğlu, who commanded tanks in a district in Ankara as part of a military display of power over the government in 1996, can be interpreted as a government compromise.
In return, however, the government gave out the strong overall message that it will no longer remain indifferent to the appointment or promotion of officers linked to groups allegedly crafting coup plots.
"In this sense, Aug. 4 [the day this year's YAŞ ended] is of historical importance. It could be described as a step forward for the normalization of Turkey," veteran journalist Hasan Cemal, the author of many books on civil-military relations, told NTV in an interview Monday. "In democracies, the last word – even on military affairs – belongs to the civilian authority."
Cemal believes the military has also begun to see this reality. "They know perfectly that their privilege of unaccountability is about to end," he said. "The Turkish Armed Forces should no longer act as a state within the state [and] Turkey will feel more comfortable."
Speculation about Koşaner's tenure
When asked what he predicts about relations between the military and the government during Koşaner's three-year term, Cemal said: "Each institution has its own area of responsibility, with the last word belonging to the government. Each institution, including the army, should be able to digest this."
Other observers say, however, that the army believes the campaign against the generals' promotions was part of an overall attempt to tarnish the credibility of the military and deteriorate morale – something they say will only work to the advantage of terrorist groups the country is actively fighting.
Arrest warrants were issued just two days before YAŞ convened for 102 retired and serving officers in connection with an alleged coup plot in 2003 codenamed "Balyoz" (Sledgehammer). The military sees this as an attempt to prevent the promotion of important figures to crucial posts, one of its three main reasons for uneasiness regarding the government's intervention in the promotion system.
This system for promotions and appointments is unique and designed to maintain the integrity of the command structure, the military says, arguing that the government's blocking of Iğsız's promotion and attempt to elevate current Gendarmerie Forces Commander Atila Işık damaged this system's essential nature by introducing personal choices for the appointments.
This is reportedly why Işık refused the offer of taking the Land Forces command and decided to resign from his post; he did not want to be tagged "the government's man in the command structure." Similarly, the military says, the suspension of 11 officers allegedly connected to the Balyoz case will also raise problems at the next YAŞ as the cycle has been derailed.
The third potential consequence is more individual than institutional. Deviation from the traditions that put Koşaner's situation and that of his Land Forces commander up in the air for five days are seen as additional factors that could fuel tensions in the new chief of General Staff's tenure. Though he won't make it a public case, Koşaner will likely show his staunchly secularist opinions in his speeches, the first of which is expected to be witnessed during the takeover ceremony Aug. 27.
Koşaner, a native of İzmir, has served as the head of the Special Forces Command, a unit designed to fight terrorism. "It's very important," Prof. Mehmet Caşin told NTV on Monday. "Koşaner is a full-pledge Land Forces commander. I think we'll see a tougher command structure in his term."
Decisions made at YAŞ promoted 74 officers to higher ranks.