Review by Christos T. Panagopoulos –
Disappointment, resentment and anger. These should be the three words describing what Former Commander of the Turkish Naval Forces, Admiral Nusret Güner, feels about coup-plot cases like Ergenekon and the way the government handled them.
“The target in cases like Ergenekon, Balyoz, and Poyrazköy was not the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK], but rather the Turkish Naval Forces. The rate of arrested officers is around 10 percent in the land and air forces, while it is 80 percent in the naval forces,” said Güner, following the Sept. 3 trial of the Poyrazköy coup plot case, in which 71 suspects, eight of which under arrest, are facing charges.
According to daily “Hürriyet”, Güner resigned after officers under his command, including seven commanders, four rear admirals, two vice admirals and numerous captains and lower-ranking soldiers, were arrested. His chief of staff, Rear Adm. Kemalettin Gür, had earlier resigned in 2012. Güner criticized the Ergenekon, Balyoz and Poyrazköy cases for aiming to make the Naval Forces less effective, stressing that a vice-admiral is currently commanding the Naval Forces for the first time since 1923.
Strong criticism against the Turkish media
He added that he recommended to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the reintroduction of a law forcing prosecutors and judges to pay compensation for any faulty decisions.
Güner also criticized the public, media and the opposition for not taking action for the officers being tried in these cases. “This nation, this media are not defending soldiers. Neither the opposition, the main opposition, nor the government is defending the soldiers,” he said.
The former Navy commander also voiced his dissatisfaction over the lack of attention paid to his resignation. “I, the commander of Navy, resigned. But nobody asked me, ‘Why did you resign?’ Neither the opposition, nor the media … These issues cannot be solved simply by visiting [former Chief of General Staff] İlker Başbuğ in prison … I look at the bigger picture and it tells me that bright people are being convicted with life sentences. And the Turkish people remain silent,” Güner said.
Discontent with CHP
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu visited the imprisoned former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ, who was recently given a life sentence in the Ergenekon coup plot trial, in Istanbul’s Silivri Prison on Aug. 31.
However, Güner expressed his discontent with the CHP for insufficient support for the military. “I have made up a new nickname. I call them an advocate opposition [favoring the government]. Even the opposition is not protecting my bright friends. But they will give an account for these, where? Maybe in the next world, for those who believe in [the existence of the next world],” he said.
Güner said the arrested or prosecuted officers were innocent people only working for the good of the country. “I have known them [arrested officers] since I was 13-year-old. None of them could harm their nation or country. They have served for Turkey for 30 years. They have made great contributions to this country’s security and wealth. But unfortunately, this is what they get,” he said.
He also ruled out claims that he had resigned due to embarrassment after a hidden camera was installed in his daughter’s room in order to blackmail him.
According to a landmark verdict in the Ergenekon coup plot case on Aug. 5, İlker Başbuğ was sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to overthrow the government.