[CAFE CAPITAL] Why does CHP leader Baykal risk his political dignity?
One of the most striking subjects of backstage whispers in Ankara is the question of why Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal would gamble his political dignity by advocating Ergenekon.
It is said that Baykal, who maintains that the Ergenekon indictment is a political indictment and not a judicial one, even risks his political career, not just his dignity. What are the factors forcing Baykal into making these mistakes despite his long years of experience?
Many CHP deputies are worriedly following developments. Two important names from the CHP, Onur Öymen and Kemal Anadol, have to support their leader. These two names were the first to react against the indictment. Regardless of the indictment’s content, their remarks were preordained. Their saying “The mountain has given birth to a mouse” took place without their even reading the outline of the indictment.
A CHP deputy who prefers to remain anonymous said: “I could not understand the reason behind their acting so brashly. The indictment covers and relates to the attack on the Council of State and the hand grenade attacks on the Cumhuriyet daily. Two important names say, in the name of our party, that the mountain has given birth to a mouse. You do not need to be a lawyer to talk like this. Faith in justice is enough not to talk like this.” Baykal has dwelled long on the Council of State attack and the Ergenekon case and emphasized that the government will have to resign if links between the two cannot be proved.
A lawyer and deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) replied to Baykal’s calls for his party’s resignation and said the CHP leader is trying to weaken the people’s respect for justice. “If the court cannot find a direct relation between the attack and the hand grenade attacks on Cumhuriyet, this would be result of a judicial process. This is not a situation that would force the government to resign. However the opposite result would be very important for Baykal. ... I mean, he said there was no relation between the two attacks, so he should no longer lead his party if the court proves there is a relation between the two attacks.”
Baykal spoke thus: “The most important part of this indictment is the attack on the Council of State. If the relation between the two attacks is proved, then there is no problem, because the core of this indictment is the attack on the Council of State. From this respect, this attack will be a litmus test for this case. If the prosecution can prove the relation between and reveal the culprits of these attacks, then I will congratulate them.”
Another lawyer and deputy said: “There could be two explanations for Baykal risking his political career to defend Ergenekon: 1) He is aware where and to whom the Ergenekon inspection will reach. He knows it will reach very close to him and is trying to prevent this by taking big risks. 2) The possibility that the result he seeks in the AK Party’s closure case will not come about means he feels he has to play advocate to Ergenekon.” Another AK Party deputy noted that Baykal welcomed a visit from retired Gen. Şener Eruygur only one day before the “republican rallies,” which began on April 14, 2007, and began in Ankara’s Tandoğan Square. “If there was not a serious situation Baykal would not take such a risk! It is also very interesting that the people who were against the relations revealed in the Susurluk case are now defending Ergenekon,” he added.
Similarity with Italy’s ‘clean hands’ operation
One of the reasons for reactions against the Ergenekon inspection was the claim that respected people had been arrested within its scope. The question “Did these people commit those crimes?” included both surprise and rejection. The very same question had previously been asked during the “clean hands” operation in Italy. During that operation, more respected people were tried.
Although not reflected in the indictment, there is another resemblance between the two cases: Both countries have prime ministers who have lost their positions seven times but regained them eight times. The important difference here is that former Italian Prime Minster Giulio Andreotti was sentenced to 24 years’ imprisonment after the operation in Italy. The murder of Mino Pecorelli, killed while searching for the kidnappers and murderer of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro, was also solved during that operation.
In Turkey, meanwhile, the prosecution included the assassination of journalist Uğur Mumcu in the investigation. It is also claimed that Mumcu was studying very important and secret issues. However, in Italy the leader of the main opposition party did not try to act as an advocate for the accused.
In Italy the people wondering whether the respected people could commit such crimes got their answers.
Ergenekon’s contribution to Turkey’s maturity Ergenekon is the main subject of debate nationwide. So much so that the economic situation, the AK Party closure case and the approaching local elections are scarcely discussed. One of my old leftist friends, whose ideas I value, said: “We have always defended progressive ideas as leftists, but we did not realize that we had become conservatives with the ideas we have defended. However, the conservatives, rightists, Islamists -- all of whom we saw as ‘villagers’ -- have undergone a serious process of transformation. The coups played an important role in the transformation of the Islamists in particular. These people questioned their mistakes after each coup. I hope the Turkish left can evaluate the Ergenekon case as an opportunity to correct its mistakes in the Susurluk case.”