Turkey’s former Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt died early on Nov. 21 at the age of 79 in the hospital that he was receiving treatment in Istanbul.
The former army chief died four days after his wife Filiz Büyükanıt passed away. He couldn’t attend his wife’s funeral due to his illness.
Being one of the most controversial figures in Turkish political and military history, Büyükanıt is known with two significant events, with one leading Turkey into a political turmoil and forcing early elections.
An e-memorandum was posted on the website of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in April, 2007, in which the army threatened to step in to “protect Turkey’s secular system.”
As a country that experienced numerous coups since its foundation, the release of the e-memorandum drew ire, especially from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The statement, which was released amid presidential elections in parliament, was slammed due to being an attempt to undermine the elected government.
“The problem that emerged in the presidential election process is focused on arguments over secularism. Turkish Armed Forces are concerned about the recent situation. It should not be forgotten that the Turkish Armed Forces are a party in those arguments, and absolute defender of secularism,” read the statement penned by Büyükanıt.
“It is observed that some circles who have been carrying out endless efforts to disturb fundamental values of the Republic of Turkey, especially secularism, have escalated their efforts recently,” it added.
Because opposition lawmakers boycotted the first voting, AKP candidate Abdullah Gül was not elected president, which was followed by early general elections.
In the elections that were held on July 22, 2007, the AKP received some 46 percent of the votes, hence gaining 341 seats in parliament.
Because the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which gained 71 seats in the aforementioned elections, refrained from boycotting the presidential election, a total of 367 lawmakers were present in parliament and Gül was elected.
Another controversial event that included Büyükanıt’s name was a meeting held between him and then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul.
Being held only seven days after the e-memorandum, the contents of the meeting weren’t disclosed to the public, with Büyükanıt branding it as “a state business.”
He also said that the issues talked about in the meeting “will go to the grave with me.”