Military dragging feet against normalization with separate reception
In what could be seen as the military's unwillingness to keep up with Turkey's ongoing normalization process, Turkey's top commanders will not be attending a reception at the Çankaya presidential palace today and instead will be holding a separate one to avoid contact with the headscarved first lady.
The military appears to have devised a new strategy after President Abdullah Gül decided to receive top generals at the Republic Day reception which he will be hosting together with his wife, whose headscarf has been an issue for the military ever since Gül was nominated for the presidency three years ago. Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner has decided to hold a reception with his wife, Nurdan Koşaner, at the same time as Gül's reception. There are predictions that the top commanders may show up at Gül's reception for a very short time and skip the ceremony during which the president and first lady Hayrünnisa Gül will receive guests. This year, President Gül decided to end the three-year-long tradition of holding two separate receptions -- one during the day together with his wife where representatives of NGOs, media organizations and artists were invited, and another later in the evening where he alone received politicians and military commanders -- instead choosing to hold one reception where he and the first lady will welcome all invited guests, including top generals.
This decision by the top commanders, who were expected to attend the reception in a move to contribute to the normalization of civilian-military relations, is being viewed as the military's unwillingness to keep up with this process.
It is also uncertain which political leaders will show up at today's reception. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of staunchly secular main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), was still undecided on whether to attend the reception or not as of yesterday. The CHP did not make a party decision on the issue, leaving the choice to its deputies. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader, on the other hand, plans to attend the reception.