Turk military gives politicians 'last warning'
The Turkish armed forces have issued what is seen here as a last warning to the politicians to get together to solve the nation's pressing problems, particularly the growing political violence.Skip to next paragraph
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The warning does not spell out what the military leaders will do if their words are not heeded. But the general assumption here is that they may intervene and install a nonpartisan government.
The military leaders' warning, contained in a letter addressed to President Fahri Koruturk, was dislosed Jan. 2. The President summoned Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel and opposition leader Bulent Ecevit and gave them copies.
The letter was signed by Chief of Staff Gen. Kenan Evren and the commanders of the Air Force, Navy, land forces, and gendarmerie. It vigorously criticizes the political parties to refusing to compromise and for continuing their political quarrels in defiance of the growing danger of anarchy, separatism, and the aggravation of the country's grave economic situation.
The letter said the nation could no longer tolerate those who chanted communist marches instead of the national anthem, those who advocated at theocratic state, and those who wanted fascism. The commanders charged parliament with failing to take any action or even to agree on an agenda for action.
In March 1971, the Army intervened because of the politicians' quarrels and their alleged failure to cope with the nation's problems. At that time also, Mr. Demirel was in office. He was forced to resign. A nonparty government was set up and a large-scale crackdown on the left followed.
The present military commanders have waited for the various political parties to get together and try to end the violence and anarchy that are claiming the lives of half a dozen people daily throughout Turkey.But both Mr. Ecevit's and Mr. Demirel's efforts to introduce anti-terrorist legislation have failed.
Hence the commanders' loss of patience, particularly in view of growing pressures from within the Army itself as soldiers in charge of security have become the target of terrorists. The commanders issued a first warning in December during a session of the National Security Council. The latest warning noted that "no positive results" followed the earlier appeal.
The question now is whether the political leaders will join at last in a common effort. If not, it is widely speculated here that the commanders will intervene -- perhaps with semi- military rule as in 1971, with a nonparty civilian government.