From the very beginnings of 1950s, with the effect of parliamentary democracy, one of the main policies of Turkey is to be identified as ‘European’. Given that Turkey has a historical background which is shaped by the formidable presence of the military in public affairs. ‘National security’ concept is very crucial to Turkish Republic’s policies both internal and external, which is under the guarantee of Turkish Armed Forces since the formation of the republic with the underlying ideology of the state, Kemalizm. Nowadays, Turkey is struggling for the accession to EU, and one of the basic obstacles is the very presence of the military force in public affairs and decision-making procedure. EU sets; diminishing the influence of military on the governments and public life, as a prerequisite to enter into EU for Turkey.
Much has been writtenabout the debate over the power of Turkish military in the Turkish polity.The works of sociologists like Nordlinger (1977) and Mann (1995) explain the regime strategies which led to the power of military force to grow. Jacoby (2003)also uses the works of these sociologists to study the manifestations of Turkish militarism from the 1960 intervention to the early 1990s. Most works focus on the causes of military coups in Turkey or on the nature and consequences of transitions from military to civilian rule. Ahmad (1981), Heper (1988), Cizre (1997, 2004) and Chtena (1999) are the other scholars focused on Turkish military and civilian rule relationships and how it affects the decision-making process in political arena. Huntington (1957) also uses the term praetorianism to refer to the situations in which not only the military intervenes in politics but also other groups and aims to understand the causes of military interventions. Hale (1994) discusses the role of the Turkish Armed Forces in Turkish polity since the Ottoman Empire. As we see, there are a lot of works done on the importance of military in Turkish politics, so it is a very important issue. However, these works neglect what happened to the military’s engagement in politics after 1980 coup. Cizre (1997) claimed that Turkish army’s power expanded after the 1980 coup, but rather it diminished with its authoritative nature and military stayed behind the curtains acting like a shadow. Army did not want to lose its power and made some attempts, but they remained ineffective against the policies of the existed governments, especially by the effect of Ozal Government.
In modern societies, military is really important being the guarantor of national interest of nation states and security issues are directly within the political arena. The army is a branch of the executive power, under the order of the Ministry of Defense, and it acts as an instrument group to shape or intervene in foreign policies. Perlmutter (1977) states that military interventions during the twentieth century, mostly occurred in developing world, including Latin American, Arab, African and Asian countries, deriving from their ineffective political systems and the failure of the civilian government to contain the army which in turn, resulted with the “praetorianism” (in Chtena, 1999). In this regard, modern praetorianism led military intervene in political life.
However, for a country that was in a democratization process, Turkey experienced many military coups. In order to bring democracy back, democracy was altered by the military although every intervention had said to be a temporary take over only to bring democratic rule back. It was usually problematic for the ones who gained power through military intervention to regulate the state affairs only having knowledge and technological expertise in military level, but not in ministerial level, so, sometimes the consequences of the coups were likely to be more problematic. The military intervention took place in 1980 and followed by the 1982 constitution, was the most authoritative and long lasting one. The 1980 takeover made the relationship between the governing elite and military commanders tenser than ever, resulting with an invisible power competition between each party.
Although Turkey is not a military state, the public trust to military is very big and military’s influence on state affairs is undeniable. It becomes apparent especially with the growing power of National Security Council (NSC) in Turkey. The question is why the military is so powerful in Turkey and in what respects the relationship between the army and government shaped during the 1980 intervention period. In this framework, it is necessary to evaluate what kinds of policies were made by both sides in order to get the executive power from each other’s hands in this period with a closer look to military and government relationship compared with the other two military coups took place in 1960 and 1971 to understand to what extent the military remained powerful in politics.