PM Tayyip Erdo?an says nation paid price for Feb. 28 coup

MUSTAFA ÜNAL
HANNOVER/?STANBUL


Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an responded to the questions of a group of journalists on the plane taking him back to Turkey from Germany on Monday night.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, who was among the victims of the infamous Feb. 28, 1997 unarmed military intervention, has said the Turkish nation has paid and is still paying the price for the coup.
Speaking to a group of journalists on the plane taking him back to Turkey from Germany on Monday night, Erdo?an shared his views with regards to the Feb. 28 postmodern coup on its 14th anniversary. When reminded of the remarks of then-Land Forces Commander Gen. Hüseyin K?vr?ko?lu, who had triumphantly announced that “Feb. 28 will last 1,000 years,” Erdo?an said Turkey is now a country where such interventions do not exist. “What have we been saying all this time? Improved democracy. Let alone the political parties of the time, the nation, the country paid the price for Feb. 28. And we have been continuing to pay the price,” Erdo?an said.
Speaking to a group of journalists on the plane taking him back to Turkey from Germany, Erdo?an shared his views with regards to the Feb. 28 postmodern coup on its 14th anniversary. Erdo?an said Turkey is now a country where such interventions do not exist
In 1997, uneasy with the existence of a conservative party — the Welfare Party (RP) — in government, the General Staff sought ways to do away with the government.
The National Security Council (MGK) made several decisions during a meeting on Feb. 28 and presented them to then-Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, also the leader of the RP, for approval. Erbakan was forced to sign the decisions, and he subsequently resigned. The event has since been termed a “postmodern coup.” Erdo?an was also a member of the RP in 1997 and was serving as mayor of ?stanbul. The RP was later closed down.
Erdo?an said analysts just recently began writing on the events of Feb. 28, after “dark sides” of the postmodern coup began to emerge.
According to the prime minister, his government drew lessons from the Feb. 28 intervention and stood against the April 27 memorandum in 2007. “We did not want to experience what we experienced before. The same thing may not have happened in the April 27 case, but we had a meeting and evaluated the situation. We made our stance clear one day after the memorandum. In fact, this was the same day as the memorandum was released. And Turkey won,” Erdo?an said.
On April 27, 2007, the General Staff posted a harsh statement on its website warning the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government to preserve the republic’s secular tradition. The General Staff threatened to take action if the government failed to do so. In defiance, the AK Party called early elections and returned to Parliament with even greater public support.

 PM: YSK decision against Turkish expats’ right to vote

Commenting on a recent ruling by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) that blocked the possibility of Turkish citizens residing abroad from voting at embassies or consulates in their countries of residence, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an said it is a decision that runs against the right of Turkish expatriates to vote.

Stating that he expects strong support from the media on the issue, Erdo?an said the YSK made its decision on Sunday, when he was discussing the issue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said there is no problem on Germany’s part. “The YSK made that decision while I was discussing the issue there. Are you sabotaging me? The YSK openly violates our expatriates right to vote,” he complained as he lashed out at the YSK. The prime minister said they would continue to look for a solution to the issue.

On Sunday the YSK announced that Turkish expatriates can only vote in the upcoming general elections, scheduled for June 12, at customs gates, upsetting Turks in many countries. Turkey has about 2.5 million eligible voters residing abroad. However, only about 10 percent of them make the effort to go to the border to cast their vote. The YSK says it cannot allow electronic voting at Turkish missions abroad yet because the infrastructure for it is not in place. When asked whether the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) took an initiative to enable Turkish expatriates voting in the elections with the hope of garnering more votes, Erdo?an said no one can guess how the people will vote at the ballot box, adding that what the AK Party wants is to only enable these people to cast their votes.

As for whether the YSK decision has a political aspect, Erdo?an said the nation would decide. “The YSK should not have done that. There may be up to 3 million voters in Europe,” he added. Meanwhile, the YSK decision continues to draw criticism from various circles. Murat Bilhan, a former ambassador, said that in the ‘70s, when he served as a diplomat, he had prepared a large number of reports proposing to find a way to let Turkish citizens abroad cast their votes without having to leave their host country. Bilhan told Today’s Zaman that the right to vote was an inalienable right and one that cannot be denied to any citizen. European Union expert Cengiz Aktar said even Central Asian countries allow their own expats to cast votes in their embassies and consulates in foreign countries. Aktar said the failure to allow Turks abroad to vote without having to travel long distances was the result of technical ineptitude.


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