Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Former coup leader and Turkish president Kenan Evren gave testimony to a prosecutor yesterday regarding, apparently, the 1980 coup. Claiming ill health, Evren managed to have the interview take place at his house, rather than at the prosecutor's office. (Here is Today's Zaman take on the story).
Here's some of what the Turkish Daily Tattler has to say about it:
I think the prosecutor's visit to Evren--less than a week before national elections--should be viewed in the context of the great desire among most people in Turkey to create a more civilian government and, to a lesser extent, to shed more light on the crimes that were committed by the military regime in the 1980s. Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan has done a good job of positioning himself as the 'civilianizing' prime minister, and the pressure on Evren reminds voters that Erdogan, more than any current political figure in Turkey, has been willing to take on the country's military establishment. More than one observer of Turkish politics--whether within Turkey or outside--has justified the Ergenekon investigation in terms of rooting out the military's influence in politics.
Punishing the coup leaders from 1980 remains a point that appeals to voters from a wide cross-section of political perspectives, and, I think, reminds many people of what they might (perhaps only secretly) like about the Ergenekon trials.
We'll see what happens. I doubt that Evren will ever be held accountable for his actions. As is the case with Ergenekon more generally (that is, the original Ergenekon trial, the one about crimes committed by the state against Turkish citizens), my sense is that the most powerful and protected figures will likely manage to work out a way of splitting their differences with one another.
More than anything else, however, Erdogan wants to change the constitution, and he would prefer to do it without having to go to a referendum. If he gets the votes he needs next week, Erdogan will be able to go after the 1980 coup leaders--if he still feels like it--and do a whole lot more as well.