Turkey and America's top military commanders met on Wednesday in what a spokesman from the US Joint Chiefs of Staff has called a sign of the two nations' deeply rooted strategic ties. Speaking to the Anatolia news agency on Wednesday, Pentagon spokesperson Cdr. Scott McIlnay said Chief of General Staff Necdet Özel met with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Wednesday and plans to see US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on Thursday. The talks are expected to cover the two nations' overlapping strategic interests, which include the Syria crisis and Iran's nuclear ambitions.
McIlnay also said Özel is scheduled to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery as well as a number of bases in Virginia and Florida.
Özel's visit will also include a briefing on the progress of America's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. Ankara has already signed a contract for the delivery of two of the US-produced fighters by 2015, and currently plans to buy 100 of the planes for a total of $16 billion.
AK Party's Çelik says military should quit posting statements Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Deputy Chairman Hüseyin Çelik has said the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) should abstain from polemics with political figures and quit their tradition of posting statements online in response to statements made by politicians.
Çelik said the TSK had better seek legal redress at courts rather than engage in polemics with politicians through online statements. His remarks came on Wednesday during a press conference he held at the AK Party headquarters in Ankara. Çelik's remarks came in criticism of a recent General Staff statement posted online earlier this month in which the military criticized some statements by members of the press and by representatives of professional associations targeting the TSK for what they called “inactivity” against the government.
The General Staff said in its statement that it was following criticism directed at the Turkish military with regret and concern. “We are following with regret and concern claims and comments which are for the purpose of provocation and which go beyond the limits of criticism and aim to demoralize members of the TSK and hamper their efforts to perform their duties in the best way possible,” the statement added.
According to Çelik, the General Staff and the Ministry of Defense have the right to file suits in the event of an “attack” targeting its members rather than responding to attacks in statements. “If anyone attacks the armed forces, the General Staff and the Ministry of Defense have the right to seek legal redress at judicial bodies. The military is no one's whipping boy. It should end the tradition of addressing people through statements,” he said.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also urged the General Staff to seek legal redress at courts if it faces verbal attacks from political figures. “A piece was published in a newspaper in the past and all [active duty] generals filed lawsuits [against the newspaper]. There is insult here [in criticism raised by members of the press]. … Such things [insults] should not remain unanswered. Insult and criticism are not the same thing,” he noted. (World Bulletin/News Desk)