After the recent military resignations in Turkey, a lot of changes are in the works.
The Turkish Court of Accounts began auditing military-run firms after a long-standing law that kept military expenditures outside of civilian oversight was amended last year. Not all military spending is affected by the amended law and many defense expenditures remain outside of its reach; but this move has been hailed as a step in the right direction by many observers.
On another note, a photograph taken of the new seating order at this year’s Supreme Military Council that shows the prime minister alone at the head of the table (without the chief of the General Staff sitting next to him) is causing a stir. Government officials insist that this is symbolic of the democratic changes taking place in Turkey and that this seating arrangement will become a ‘permanent scenario.’
In addition, the government may be planning to abolish Article 35 of the Turkish Armed Forces Internal Service Law that provides a legal basis for military takeovers in Turkey. A previous proposal to amend this law, submitted by the main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party, was criticized as being undemocratic. The new proposal will be formulated after Parliament resumes on Oct. 1. The last time this law was used was in 1997 when the military staged an unarmed intervention which overthrew the Refah-Yol coalition government. Significantly, both the government and the military agree that this kind of a law needs to be amended.
Finally, last week, the Prime Minister announced the the Military Supreme Court of Appeals will be abolished and the General Staff will report directly to the Ministry of Defense. The Prime Minister argued that the dual system of justice was inappropriate and undemocratic, while a retired chief prosecutor added that officers, even those with legal educations, cannot be impartial in the face of command hierarchies, and the right to a fair trial is always at risk.