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Turkey appoints new armed forces leadership

January 30, 2014 at 1:20 pm

The Turkish government has appointed a new armed forces leadership within the framework of comprehensive changes to emphasise its control over the military, which has at times dominated political life in the country. The second largest army in NATO faces multiple challenges with the spillover of the Syrian conflict across the border.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who chaired a meeting of the Supreme Military Council, has sought to reduce the political influence of the army since his Justice and Development Party formed the government 2002. The avowedly-secular military carried out three coups in the period between 1960 and 1980, and ousted the first Islamist-led government in 1997.

The Supreme Military Council takes decisions on promotions and retirement of senior officers at its meeting which is held the third day of August every year. The changes were anticipated although the decision to force the retirement of paramilitary Gendarmerie commander General Bekir Kalyoncu was a surprise. Kalyoncu was a front-runner for the top military post. The general has been a critic of the government and his name was mentioned during the trial of the alleged Ergenekon plotters against Mr Erdogan.

The General Staff announced on its website the appointment of Vice-Admiral Bulent Bostanoglu as commander of the navy, Lieutenant General Akin Ozturk as head of the air force and General Servet Yoruk as commander of the gendarmerie.

The Council’s decisions were announced after being approved by President Abdullah Gul.