Gen. Basbug takes over helm of Turkish general staff from Gen. Buyukanit
At a ceremony yesterday, Gen. Ilker Basbug took over the command of the Turkish General Staff from Gen. Yasar Buyukanit. Addressing the handover ceremony, Buyukanit said that Turkey is undergoing great changes, and that the countries which fail to change are fated to be mere spectators, with events imposed on them by outsiders. Stating that separatism and radicalism have been the chief threats facing Turkey, he added the perception of threats has changed. Pointing to Turkey's recent cross-border operations into northern Iraq, Buyukanit said the determined fight against the terrorist PKK will continue. For his part, incoming Chief of General Staff Basbug said that only institution authorized to interpret the Constitution is the Constitutional Court, and that the founding philosophy of the Republic of Turkey is based on a unitary, secular nation-state. Stating that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) always protects those principles, he claimed that if the European Union fails to admit Turkey, it will lack influence in the Middle East and the Caucasus. "Turkey is the most powerful, secular and democratic country in the region," he added. Among those attending the ceremony were President Abdullah Gul, Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Mehmet Ali Talat.