What Does Europe Think of Ergenekon?


Europe is correct to be skeptical of Turkey’s European Union accession prospects – but Brussels should be wary not because Turkey is not “part of Europe,” but because its democracy remains fragile and its liberalism incomplete.
The most obvious evidence of Turkey’s uneven progress is the ongoing Ergenekon investigation that continues to roil the country. The criminal case has led to the arrests of 194 individuals suspected of being members of Turkey’s derin devlet (Deep State) – a murky, extra-legal organization that is suspected of having close ties to the military and the bureaucracy.
At first glance, the investigation might be considered a healthy development akin to Italy’s “clean hands” investigation in the 1990s, which somewhat successfully purged the Italian state of corruption.
But a closer examination of the investigation suggests that a higher degree of skepticism is in order.
In a paper for the Central Asia – Caucasus Institute Silk Road Studies Program at Johns Hopkins’ School for Advanced International Studies, long-time Istanbul denizen and analyst of Turkey Gareth Jenkins describes in painstaking detail how the investigation is best understood as the result of wild conspiracy theories combined with a partisan effort to weaken the secular establishment, the government’s chief rival for political power.
The paper, “Between Fact and Fantasy: Turkey’s Ergenekon Investigation,” can be read here.
Here is part of Jenkins’ alarming conclusion:

Even the most cursory objective examination of the investigation raises deeply disturbing questions, which multiply and intensify the more closely the alleged evidence in the case is examined….
[Judicial concerns include] the manner in which the investigation as a whole has been handled, the disregard for due process, the prosecutors’ inability or unwillingness to understand the numerous contradictions in the indictments, the creative interpretation and occasional apparent manipulation of what little evidence is adduced, the arbitrary nature of many of the police raids, the length of time some of the suspects have been detained in prison without being formally charged, the frequency with which materials related to the case or its critics have been leaked into the public domain, and the subsequent suspicion that the investigation has become tainted by political motives.

Jenkins’ report raises serious allegations and Europeans would be correct to raise concerns. Indeed, the accession negotiations are meant to encourage Turkey to adopt liberal reforms, while discouraging illiberal governmental actions.
It is surprising, therefore, that the Ergenekon case is nearly absent from the European Commission’s most recent progress report on Turkey, published last month (two months after Jenkins’ report was published).
Here is what the 94 page (single-spaced) report has to say about the Ergenekon case.

Investigations into the alleged criminal network Ergenekon continued. Charges include attempting to overthrow the government and to instigate armed riots. Ammunition and
weapons were discovered in the course of the investigation. A first trial, which started in
October 2008, is ongoing. A second indictment, covering 56 suspects including three retired
generals and a former commander of the gendarmerie, was submitted to court in March 2009.
A third indictment covering 52 suspects was presented to the Court in July. The cases
concerning these two indictments are discussed in one single trial, which started in July 2009
and is ongoing. This is the first case in Turkey to probe into a coup attempt and the most
extensive investigation ever on an alleged criminal network aiming at destabilising the
democratic institutions. Furthermore, for the first time a former Chief of Staff testified voluntarily as a witness. Concerns have been raised about effective judicial guarantees for all
the suspects….
Overall, the investigation of the alleged criminal network Ergenekon has led to serious criminal charges, involving military officers. This case is an opportunity for Turkey to strengthen confidence in the proper functioning of its democratic institutions and the rule of law. It is important that proceedings in this context fully respect the due process of law, in particular the rights of the defendants….
During a press briefing in April, the Chief of General Staff made comments on the Ergenekon case and on the indictment, thus putting the judiciary under pressure. Some senior members of the armed forces lent support to military personnel standing trial.

In the context of Turkey’s judiciary, there is another reference.

High-profile cases raised concerns about the quality of the investigations. Furthermore, there is a need to improve the working relationship between the police and the gendarmerie on the one hand and the judiciary on the other. Reports by civil society organisations and statements by witnesses, in particular regarding the alleged criminal network Ergenekon, the murder of three Protestants in Malatya and the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink cases, highlighted these concerns in specific cases….There have been reports of violations of procedural rights of the accused in the judicial proceedings regarding the alleged criminal network Ergenekon.


Overall, some progress has been made, in particular on limiting the jurisdiction of military courts. However, senior members of the armed forces have made statements on issues going beyond their remit, and full parliamentary oversight of defense expenditure needs to be ensured. The alleged involvement of military personnel in anti-government activities, disclosed by the investigation on Ergenekon, raises serious concerns.

Nearly all of the report’s analysis of the Ergenekon investigation focuses on the case’s potential to strengthen civilian political power and weaken the power of the military. This has been a European objective for a long time, but it is not the only lens through which the Ergenekon investigations should be analyzed.
On the judicial concerns that Jenkins raises in his paper, the European Union Commission report notes merely that “concerns have been raised about effective judicial guarantees for all the suspects.” It does not elaborate at all.
Whether or not Jenkins’ analysis is entirely correct, it certainly suggests that the investigations merit further attention.
Europe should start paying attention, but it is important that it pay attention in the right way. Populist political campaigners should not use the investigation as evidence that Turkey is not “part of Europe” and never can be. Instead, Brussels should conduct as thorough an investigation as possible, make its results known, indicate that the investigation must be conducted in accordance with liberal norms, and insist that reforms must be implemented before Turkey can join its Union.
— Ben Katcher


8 comments on “What Does Europe Think of Ergenekon?

  1. dave says:

    turkish translation of gareth jenkins report;


  2. Mr.Murder says:

    The Clean Hands infrastructure basically foreshadowed the Niger Forgery.
    Look closer….


  3. JohnH says:

    It’s been obvious for some time that Israel does like the Turkish regime. Wigwag set out the litany of talking points, all designed to make Turkey look bad.
    Clearly, Israel does not welcome the advent of democracy in Turkey, giving voice to the Muslim masses. Nor does Israel welcome a rival to its claim of being the only Middle East democracy, despite the fact that Israel’s “democracy” excludes half the people under its authority. Nor does Israel welcome a potential competitor for regional hegemony.
    The solution of narrow, Likud-ite (rhymes with Luddite) minds? A coup, of course. (There’s a military solution to every problem.)


  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    A ‘rabbi’ in the underground
    By Zvi Bar’el
    Tags: Ergenekon, turkey
    Daniel Levi, Daniel Guney or Tuncay Guney? Who is this person whom the prosecution in Turkey last week said it wanted to summon to interrogate? According to reports in the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, he is a Mossad agent who was a member of the right-wing nationalist underground known as Ergenekon. It is alleged that Ergenekon planned to topple the pro-Islamic government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
    Another Turkish newspaper, Yeni Safak, reported that documents were found in Guney’s apartment that allegedly link members of Israel’s business community with important Turkish figures also involved in the Ergenekon affair.
    According to other reports in the Turkish press, Guney was an agent of the Turkish intelligence service who penetrated both the ranks of the Turkish police’s intelligence service and the Ergenekon organization so as to expose the identity of its members. In 2004, Guney was smuggled out of Turkey and clandestinely sent to the United States; he subsequently moved to Canada, where his name appears in the membership list of Congregation Beit Yaakov as Daniel T. Guney.
    An attempt to obtain Guney’s reaction proved fruitless; however, last week, the 36-year-old Guney spoke with Turkish journalists and reacted to the accusations: “I have never been an intelligence agent, and I was given the name ‘Silk’ not because I was an agent but because I was the subject of intelligence surveillance.” That is not what the National Intelligence Organization, for which Guney apparently worked, is saying; it denies that he was one of its agents and that he penetrated both the ranks of the Turkish police’s intelligence service and Turkey’s counterterrorism unit. The latter agency was a division of the National Intelligence Organization but was dismantled in the wake of allegations that it was involved in criminal activities and even played a role in the assassination of political opponents.
    Despite the denial, it seems apparent that the allegations are true; a Turkish court is now demanding that the National Intelligence Organization report to it on its links with this suspected agent, who is now being referred to as “the rabbi.” It is doubtful that Guney is actually a rabbi; the child of Jews of Egyptian origin, he worked as a journalist in Turkey. He subsequently began to deal in the sale of stolen cars and, between the time he was smuggled out of Turkey to the present day, he does not seem to have engaged in any academic program that might have included rabbinical studies. However, that has not stopped Turkish newspapers from labeling him as a Mossad agent-cum-rabbi who supposedly worked for Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization.


  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Mossad role in Turkey coup plot revealed
    Mon, 01 Dec 2008 10:05:26 GMT
    Tuncay Gueny is suspect of attempts to topple Turkish government.
    Israel’s national intelligence agency Mossad has been behind a failed coup in Turkey, the Turkish daily newspaper, Milliyet reports.
    A secret investigation into detained Ergenekon group members and other studies outside Turkey indicate that Mossad orchestrated the coup plot against the Turkish government, the report says.
    The Ergenekon group is a Turkish neo-nationalist organization with alleged links to the military, members of which have been arrested on charges of plotting to foment unrest in the country.
    Investigators uncovered evidence that show a Jewish rabbi named Tuncay Guney, who worked for Mossad and fled to Canada in 2004, was a key figure behind attempts to overthrow the Turkish government.
    A document uncovered this week by the Sabah daily shows how Guney purposefully infiltrated Ergenekon and another organization known as JITEM, an illegal intelligence unit in the gendarmerie suspected of hundreds of murders and kidnappings .
    The rabbi was taken out of Turkey and sent to the US for protection after his identity was exposed in an investigation by Turkish police, according to Sabah.
    Guney is also reported to have links with Israeli espionage activities in Egypt. According to Egyptian security forces, at least one of three suspects currently being pursued by the Egyptian government for spying was in contact with Tuncay Guney.
    Meanwhile, a separate report by Turkish daily Yeni Safak has claimed that Turkish security forces have discovered some bags in Guney’s Istanbul house that include the Israeli flag and Mossad’s slogan.
    According to an earlier report by Aksamanother Turkish daily, Mossad has been involved in several ambiguous events in Turkey.
    The report claimed that Turkish security forces have discovered documents that disclose information concerning suspicious investment and economic activities by certain Jewish businessmen in Turkey.
    The Jewish businessmen are alleged to have had significant relations with individuals, political groups and cultural organizations, which investigations show are affiliated to the Ergenekon group.
    Turkish security forces have detained many members of the Ergenekon group, including retired army generals, politicians, popular lawyers and famous journalists. The individuals currently face trail on charges of plotting to overthrow Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


  6. TonyForesta says:

    All the more reason for our humble host to examine in detail, and use his immense talents and vast contacts to investigate the incendiary allegations of Sibel Edmonds. All roads lead to the fascists in the bushgov who attempted and may yet still succeed in establishing a NewWorldOrder, with fascist fiends and shaitans like the bush crime family cabals, dick cheney, bolten, pearl, ledeen, hayden, rumsfeld, ridge, ashcroft, gonzales, and on and on reigning Olympian and supremist, the 4th Reich. Until we will reveal these monsterous toads and explore in depth the pernicious machinations of the previous government, – all future American governments will be forever compromized, and either complicit in these evils, or if ignorant, – doomed to fail.


  7. JohnH says:

    More on Gladio and NATO’s “stay behind” secret armies embedded in the intelligence services. http://www.voltairenet[dot]org/article144748.html
    If Ergenekon is indeed one NATO’s secret armies, one can understand why NATO governments might be concerned about judicial irregularities, real or imagined.
    Unfortunately, the best of Ganser’s investigations on the “stay behind” armies doesn’t appear to be available in English yet.
    It makes for chilling reading and begs the question of the reach and breadth of the secret, “Deep State.”
    It’s also sobering that Jenkins’ observation could apply not just to Turkey but to the United States: “senior members of the armed forces have made statements on issues going beyond their remit, and full parliamentary oversight of defense expenditure needs to be ensured.” If I recall, Odierno is inappropriately talking publicly about delaying withdrawal from Iraq, McCrystal is publicly demanding more troops from Afghanistan, and DOD is somehow institutionally incapable of knowing how or where it spends its money. Even though DOD is required by a law passed in 1990 to be fully audited, it has never does so. Congress and the President could care less.


  8. samuelburke says:

    “The name “Ergenekon” may not be familiar to non-Turks, but this murky affaire has riveted Turkey’s 70 million people.
    Thirty-three members of a neo-fascist group called Ergenekon have been on trial, accused of murder, terrorism, and trying to overthrow the elected government. The trial was temporarily suspended after the courthouse was flooded out.
    The trial has been laying bare the workings of the `deep state,’ a powerful cabal of retired military officers, security forces, gangsters, government officials, judges, and business oligarchs that has long been the real power in this complex nation.
    Turkey’s military vigorously denies any links to the Ergenekon.
    Ergenekon’s plotters stand accused of plans to assassinate officials of PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Part(AKP), a democratic, modernizing movement advocating Islamic principles of fairer wealth distribution and social welfare.
    What makes this case particularly interesting is that Ergenekon may well be linked to Gladio, a secret, far right underground group created in the 1950’s by the US and NATO during the Cold War as a `stay behind’ guerillas to resist Soviet invasion or Communist takeovers. Gladio had a network of agents and caches of arms across Europe with secret links to NATO intelligence services.
    Gladio staged numerous bombing attacks and assassinations during the 1970’s and 80’s in a effort to promote far right coups in Italy, Belgium, and Turkey, where it remains active.
    A cell was even recently uncovered in Switzerland. In Italy, Gladio members played a key role in the P2 Masonic Lodge intrigue and the Vatican’s Banco Ambrosiano scandal that led to the murder of banker Roberto Calvi.”


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