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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Monday, October 02, 2006

Turkish Military Will Never Bow to EU: Admiral

Reuters: Turkey’s top naval officer said on Sept. 29 the armed forces would never make concessions for the sake of the European Union, joining a growing chorus of protests against EU calls for full civilian control of the military.

Turkey’s military, which drove a government from power as recently as 1997, views itself as the ultimate guardian of the secular order and resents EU demands that it stop speaking out on what it sees as matters of vital national interest.

"The Turkish Armed Forces will never make concessions demanded of it for the sake of the European Union," Admiral Yener Karahanoglu told the naval academy in comments quoted by the NTV channel.

Turkey began EU entry talks last year but is not expected to join for many years. The European Commission is expected to criticize Ankara’s reform record and the continued political influence of the military in its annual report in November.

Karahanoglu said domestic and foreign groups bent on destroying the armed forces were stepping up their efforts.

"I feel sorry for these poor wretches who are preparing their own ends. These groups either will leave Turkey or will be drowned in the sea of Anatolia," Karahanoglu said.

Turkish nationalists have long accused the EU and its backers at home of aiming to break up Turkey under the guise of promoting the rights of cultural and religious minorities.

Earlier this week, General Ilker Basbug, head of Turkey’s land forces, also defended the military’s right to intervene in politics in defense of secularism and nationalism.

Last week, the European Commissions’ envoy to Ankara, Hans-Joerg Kretschmer, sharply criticised the military’s habit of expressing its views "on almost every aspect of public life".

The Turkish military has intervened directly in politics four times in the past 50 years, most recently ousting a government it viewed as too Islamist in 1997.

One lawmaker from the ruling AK Party, which has roots in political Islam, said in response to Basbug’s comments that "Turkey is not Thailand", a reference to the military coup earlier this month in Bangkok.
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