Turkey steps decisively toward civilian leadership
Turkey has taken another decisive step toward restoring civilian rule. After three years of military leadership, the Turkish Parliament resumed its activities Thursday with an entirely new membership and a new form. The 399 members of the new National Assembly, elected on Nov. 6, were sworn in at this first formal session.
The center-right Motherland Party, led by Prime Minister-elect Turgut Ozal, commands a comfortable majority with 211 seats.
This and the other two parties represented in the assembly were established last August with the consent of the ruling military. Former political leaders and their parties have been barred from politics.
The new Parliament has one house and, unlike the previous one, has no senate. However, the four service commanders (from the land, air, naval, and police forces) who formed the ruling National Security Council under Gen. Kenan Evren, will retire early next month and become members of the Presidential Advisory Council. The council will advise President Evren on major international and domestic issues. In practical terms, it will serve both as an upper house and as a liaison between the Army and the civilian regime.
Prime Minister Bulent Ulusu submitted Thursday the resignation of his three-year-old government to President Evren. The ex-admiral was elected to Parliament on the ticket of the Army-backed Nationalist Democracy Party. He is likely to become the speaker (chairman) of the new assembly.
Mr. Ulusu's Cabinet will act as a caretaker government until the new government takes office. Because of procedural matters, Mr. Ozal will not be able to install his new government for at least 10 days.
Addressing his parliamentary group Thursday, Mr. Ozal said the new period will be a difficult one. His main priority, he said, will be to revive the nation's ailing economy.
On the eve of its stepping down, the Ulusu government decided to increase the price of such commodities as gasoline and household items.
Ozal also must handle the repercussions of the unexpected crisis on nearby Cyprus caused by the declaration of independence of the island's Turks. He will have to focus attention on international diplomacy and resist foreign pressures at a time when he needs political and financial support from his Western allies.