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Gen. Basbug takes the reigns of Turkeyâ€™s top military post
BayBak, Azerbaijan | 1725 days ago | Friday, 29th August , 2008 , 00:40 [am] | Azerbaijan
|.|| General Ilker Basbug officially replaced General Yasar Buyukanit, who held the top post of the Turkish army, NATO’s second biggest, on Thursday. Both generals warned on threats to secularism and stressed the importance of fight against terrorism.
This handover came at a critical time given
General Ilker Basbug officially replaced General Yasar Buyukanit, who held the top post of the Turkish army, NATO’s second biggest, on Thursday. Both generals warned on threats to secularism and stressed the importance of fight against terrorism.
This handover came at a critical time given the fact that Turkey’s Islamist-rooted ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) survived from a closure case and amid growing tension in neighboring Caucasus.
Buyukanit said the threat perception of Turkey had widened.
“Our country, which is a stability factor with its secular and democratic structure, should fight with those (threats). The reactionary movements, which attempt to devastate the secular structure of the Republic of Turkey, and terror, attempting to demolish the unitary structure, are the two serious threats. Turkish Armed Forces are the biggest obstacle in front of the plans of some circles,” Buyukanit said in his speech.
Basbug slammed those who claim secularism is a factor that harms democracy, saying the army respects democratic values.
“To say that the principles of secularism clash with democracy is not well-grounded. On the contrary, the secular order had become the driving force of the development of Turkish democracy,” Basbug told at the ceremony.
He also signaled that the operations to crackdown PKK terrorists both within Turkey and in the northern Iraq would continue.
PROFILE OF BASBUG
Trained in NATO, Basbug, 65, has spoken in the past against the threat of political Islam, but it seems like the crisis in Caucasus and fight against the terror organization, PKK, is likely to top the agenda of his new post in the short term.
Basbug handed his post as Land Forces Commander to General Isik Kosaner, who would be appointed as the army chief in 2010, on Wednesday.
Basbug stressed the importance of the fight against PKK and the weakening support of regional people to the organization in his speech at the handover ceremony.
“Terrorism can only be eliminated through coordinated actions in areas like economy, socio-culture, psychological operation, measures in international platforms as well as in military area,” he added.
The relations between the military and the government are expected to continue in a different form as Basbug seen a different commander than his predecessors.
He thinks it is important to have contacts and to establish dialogue with the government, as well as with other state organs. He also does not get involved in any debates through the media, excluding international issues.
Still on Thursday it is expected Buyukanit or Basbug to give messages on both secularism and the recent situation in Caucasus.
Here are Basbug’s opinions on some critical issues:
KEEPING ARMY OUT OF POLITICS: Basbug is expected to distance the Turkish Armed Forces from politics. However, it would not be surprising to see him make harsh statements in the case the red lines of the Turkish Armed Forces, including the unitary structure of the republic and secularism, are crossed during his term.
FIGHT AGAINST TERROR: Basbug is very experienced in the fight against terror, an issue he sees as a priority, and is determined to continue the armed struggle during his term. Turkey’s operations against the PKK continue, and the Turkish army will undertake similar operations with determination until reaching an absolute outcome, he had earlier said. He is also expected to pay a comprehensive visit to the Turkeyâ€™s terror-hit southeast region to show that he gives much importance to the issue.
REACTIONARY MOVEMENTS: Basbug sees an ongoing, planned and tireless effort to fray the revolutionary reforms of Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, and thinks reactionary movements that threaten the republic have started to become a cause for concern.
“It is the mission of “everyone who feels he is a member of Turkish nation” to claim and protect the republic’s basic characteristics of democracy, secularism, social and rule of law. The Turkish Armed Forces has always been a party for protecting this body and these characteristics and will continue to be so… It is a reactionary attitude to act in a manner against the Turkish revolution… I need to confess with deep sorrow that the reactionary threat has reached a point of concern, it is even not accepted by some segment of society,” Basbug said in the speech at the Military Academy in 2007.
CALLS FOR COMMON SENSE: Basbug usually adopts an approach to urge for common sense in periods of high-tension. Recently he held a tet-a-tet meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan when the tension over the case before the courts reached a peak and called on the media not to pressure the judiciary. He also called for common sense during Turkey’s ground operation against the PKK in northern Iraq in February.
U.S. PERSPECTIVE: Basbug desires that relations with the United States should be in a form that protects Turkey’s interests. He has criticized the U.S. in the past over its slow reaction to incidents relating to the outlawed PKK; however recent progress between Turkey and the U.S. on this issue has given him a more positive outlook.
He also prefers relations with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq, be held within a more controlled framework.
REACTIVE AGAINST EU IF NEEDED: Basbug is also expected to maintain his stance towards the European Union and not hesitate to show his reactions at times he deems necessary.
NO CONSESSIONS FOR ATHENS: Basbug is not expected to offer any concessions or show a softening in regard to relations with Greece. Basbug is likely to stick to Turkey’s formal declaration that any attempt by Greece to increase the territorial waters to 12 miles would be ‘casus belli’. He also is not expected to support speedy action in regard to relations with Armenia.
BACKGROUND: Basbug, 65, was born in Turkey’s southwestern province of Afyonkarahisar and is married with two children. He served as an infantry officer and is experienced in international diplomacy. He speaks English since he worked in the foreign representatives of Turkey for more than six years. He is known to be a prolific reader and closely monitors the world press daily.hurriet, Voice of a Nation