Turkish high military council meets amid tensions
The first day of Turkey's High Military Council meeting ended quietly Monday, with the government and generals trying to convey their relations were back on track after the shock resignation of the country's top four commanders, dpa reported.
Signs of tension between Turkey's secular military and Islamic- oriented government were manifest at the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the General Staff's headquarters.
One of the seven generals who attended, Nusret Tasdeler, the commander of the Aegean Army, is facing a warrant for arrest on charges of waging an Internet campaign against the Justice and Development Party government.
Journalists allowed into the chamber to take pictures at the start of the four-day meeting noted that five of the 14 seats were empty - evidence of the disorder created by Friday's resignation of the chief of general staff and the heads of the army, navy and air force.
Orderlies had removed the superfluous chairs, but they did not remove the microphones embedded into the oval table.
The council has the job of choosing commanders and senior officers to replace those scheduled to retire at the end of the month.
Disagreement over the selection provoked the resignations, with the chief of general staff, General Isik Kosaner, saying he had stepped down because he could not shield his fellow officers from prosecution and being denied promotion over coup plot allegations.
Erdogan moved quickly, replacing Kosaner with General Necdet Ozel, the head of the paramilitary gendarmerie. Ozel was appointed head of the army and acting chief of general staff on Friday night.
Regarded as a general with whom the government can get along, Ozel is certain to be appointed chief of general staff when the council concludes its business Thursday, political observers in Ankara agree.
Ozel led the military delegation to the council meeting, which was attended by the defence minister, and held a private meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan on Monday afternoon.
When the council's first session ended at noontime, the prime minister led the generals on a traditional visit to the mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish republic, where he laid a wreath.
Turkish prime ministers visit the mausoleum regularly to reaffirm their allegiance to the secular values of the founder of the republic.
The council will reconvene on Tuesday.