Turkish army signals “no midnight statements” but direct talks now .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} The Turkish army made no midnight statements or harsh announcements regarding the latest detainments in the Ergenekon probe, and instead delivered its messages to officials behind closed doors, a move, analysts say, signals a shift in its approach to state matters.

When three retired generals, including two involved in the military's intervention into politics in 1997, were detained under the controversial Ergenekon operation on Wednesday, all eyes turned to the army for a reaction.

The chief of the Turkish army, Gen. Ilker Basbug, convened army commanders in a six-hours-long emergency meeting, while their wives paid a visit to the home of one of the retired generals in a sign of solidarity.

The next day Basbug paid an unexpected visit to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip and the army issued a brief statement that the Ergenekon probe was discussed in the top general’s meetings.

Milliyet daily's Ankara bureau chief Fikret Bila wrote in his column Friday that this statement is a message to the Turkish public that the military is monitoring the situation closely.

"Gen. Basbug preferred to present his views in bilateral contacts instead of sharing them with the public. This shows that he thinks holding direct contacts with the civilian authority is more correct than contact viathe media," he said, adding this is an important move in regard to the methods they employ.

In the latest wave of the Ergenekon probe, which was launched in 2007 to crackdown an illegal gang allegedly planning to stage a series of incidents that would eventually provoke a military coup, around 40 people have been detained.

Those include retired generals, intellectuals, academics, and some low-ranking army officials. So far more than 100 people have been charged.

This situation put the operation directly on the radar screen of the army and makes it an important part of the probe, Milliyet's Bila added in his column on Friday. Army officials discussed possible ways to handle the issue within the rules and mechanisms of the military, according to Bila.

The detainments of high-profile opponents of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) have fuelled charges that the ruling party is launching a witch hunt against its opponents.

Bilal Cetin, the Ankara bureau chief of Vatan daily, said the army's decision not to make a statement was taken in the commanders' meeting because it is concerned that such a move could be interpreted as an intervention into the judiciary and also out of its respect for democracy.

"The General Chief of Staff did not break its rule of not publishing midnight statements. But on the other hand its uneasiness had been submitted to the related people and indirectly to the public within the democratic rules via the previous day's emergency meeting as well as yesterday's contacts," he wrote.

As Basbug held his contacts on Thursday, the Supreme Court of Appeals conducted an emergency meeting in Ankara after a police search of the home of its honorary chief prosecutor, Sabih Kanadoglu, as part of the operation.

Both institutions, however, refrained from making harsh statements despite the public assumptions of their uneasiness regarding the situation.

There are two possible reasons for this silence, Ertugrul Ozkok, the editor-in-chief of Hurriyet daily, wrote on Friday. They were either weakened or were acting in line with the requirements of a democratic regime, he noted.

"Of course the second response is right. But, we should also expect all other institutions including politics, the police and other courts and judges, to abide by democracy, as these institutions have shown," he added.