Military regimes in Turkey and Greece - A comparative analysis

Term Paper, 2007

27 Pages, Grade: 1.7



1. Introduction

2. Historical overview of the military regimes
2.1 Greece 1967-1974
2.2 Turkey 1980-83

3.The comparative analysis
3.1 The theoretical framework
3.1.1 Civil-military relationships by Nordlinger and Janowitz
3.1.2 Types of military regime by Nordlinger, Clapham and Philip
3.2 The practical analysis
3.2.1 General findings - Similarities and Differences
3.2.2 Application of the Theories

4. The role of the military today
4.1 In Greece
4.2 In Turkey

5. Conclusion


Internet Sources

1. Introduction

This term paper shall take a deeper look at the military regimes in Turkey and Greece. For a better understanding of the historical background an overview over the military regimes in point 2 of the term paper is inevitable. After that in point 3 - the main part of the paper - a comparative analysis is carried out whereby at first the theoretical framework is pointed out before it comes to the actual comparison. My analysis focuses on the military regimes that were evoked by coups d’état in both countries. With limitations to space I only draw attention to the last military regimes in both countries, meaning the junta in Greece from 1967-74 and in Turkey from 1980-83. Those timeframes are to be compared in this term paper. In the following part 4 I will also draw my attention to the role of the military in Greece and Turkey today, how the perception of the military changed and the role it is taking in the current society with regard to its power and influence.

This will lead to a final estimation in the last part of the term paper.

2. Historical overview of the military regimes

This part gives a general outline of the happenings, conditions and background information of the military juntas in Turkey and Greece.

2.1 Greece 1967-1974

The 1967 coup and the following seven years of military rule were the epitome of 30 years of national division between the forces of the Left and the Right. Moreover the emergence of international détente threatened to reduce the army’s significance as the guardian of the state against internal as well as external enemies.1

On April 21, a group of right-wing colonels of the Greek army under the lead of George Papadopoulos seized power in a coup d’état. They wanted to prevent George Papandreou's victory in the upcoming election and the Communist takeover that could follow it. During the 3 years before the coup the political situation in Greece was very unstable. The left wing radicals were gaining strength and there was considerable public unrest with almost daily demonstrations, strikes, and riots. The civilian government seemed to be incapable of controlling the situation which worsened day after day.

The aim of the coup was a so called “guided democracy”.2 Papadopoulos presented the regime not as a dictatorship but as a “parenthesis” that was “necessary to put the things straight”.3 Also the regime intended to dedicate effort to growth and development.4

They began arresting hundreds of known and suspected leftists, as well as politicians and public figures. They justified their coup by declaring that it is necessary to stop a communist threat and to cure the society of the cancer that threatened to destroy its Hellenic values.5 Thousands of communists were thrown into prison or internal exile on islands like Makronissos. Martial law, censorship, arrests, beatings, torture, and killings were all part of the cure the colonels had in mind for Greece.6 The totalitarian regime placed significant limitations to individual's rights. Free elections were suspended. It was illegal to strike, to demonstrate and to talk against the government.

So brutal and so swift was the repression, that by September, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands were before the European Commission of Human Rights to accuse Greece of violating most of the Commission's conventions. Amnesty International representatives who investigated the situation in Greece asserted that "Torture as a deliberate practice is carried out by both Security Police and the Military Police."7 On December 10th 1969 Greece withdrew from the Council of Europe to avoid the humiliation of being expelled.8

Despite these limitations on freedom most Greeks profited from a quickly growing economy under the Colonels´ military rule. By eliminating the parliament and most other bureaucratic institutions the dictators were able to make decisions quickly and efficiently which helped streamline the functioning of the economy. This led to economic growth and prosperity.9 Its economic policies boosted growth in industry, construction, and small and medium enterprises. The average rhythm of growth during the first five years of the dictatorship was more than 10% per year. The average unemployment was about 5%. The average inflation at the same period was less than 2.3%. After 1970 the public deficit started rising, and so did inflation. From the time that growth gave its place to stagnation, this simmering discontent started becoming evident.10

The Americans continued the massive military and economic aid to Greece due to its proximity to the Eastern European Soviet bloc, and the fact that the previous Truman administration had given the country millions of dollars in economic aid to discourage Communism.11

In December 1967 the King attempts a counter-coup which fails. He and his family escape to Rome. After that the king did nothing active against the regime hoping for a future development that would open the way for his return to Greece.12

To resolve the constitutional issue and cement his hold on power over his opponents, Papadopoulos introduced a new constitution which made Greece a republic. It was the end of the monarchy in the land of the Hellenes.13 Civil rights were excluded from the document and the emasculated legislature that emerged from it had no say on issues of defence and foreign policy.14 The referendum for the new government was held in early 1973, and was approved by an "almost unanimous" vote, thanks to widespread election fraud. After the election, Papadopoulos became President of Greece on June 1, 1973. Criticism about the repressive conditions of the elections arose. Political leaders began to regroup and voice their anger after several years of underground activities. Their hatred of the junta became a point of consensus which laid the ground for a post-regime civilian renewal.15 Students took the lead in opposing the regime and organised big demonstrations.16

On November 25, 1973 General Dimitrios Ioannides ousted Papadopoulos and tried to continue to rule. Ioannidis' attempt in July 1974 to overthrow Archbishop Makarios III, the President of Cyprus, brought Greece to the brink of war with Turkey which occupied parts of the island. The Turkish intervention / invasion in Cyprus forced the junta either to declare war and risk the consequences or to back down and face public humiliation. Unable und unwilling to choose the former it prefered to stand down in favor of the politicians.17 Karamanlis returned from exile in France to establish a government of national unity until elections could be held. Karamanlis' newly organized party, New Democracy won elections held in November 1974, and he became prime minister.

2.2 Turkey 1980-83

On 12 September 1980, the newly elected government of Süleyman Demirel was overthrown. Five days later, Chief of Staff General Kenan Evren declared that the military was responding to domestic political anarchy. The government was described as weak and inefficient, the source of anarchy and instability which threatened the very foundations of the state.18 The civilian government was incapable of ending the appalling wave of political killings.19 The economy was in chaos and there was no sign that the measures that Demirel had introduced in January 1980 would be sufficient. Instead, that year, inflation reached 117.4 percent, unemployment increased from 20 to 25 percent, and industrial production fell by almost 3 percent. The deteriorating economic situation meant that Ankara had to re-negotiate agreements with the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Monetary Fund, and was required to introduce measures including liberalization of foreign investment laws.20 With the military regime all obstacles that stood in the way of a market economy of the type favoured by the International Monetary Fund were removed.21

The military regime of 1980-83 closed down all political parties and banned their leaders from political life.22 Evren laid out the new regime's program, which included civil order, national unity, and a secular state based on social justice and human rights.23 He announced that democracy would be restored within a reasonable period of time. All obstacles which had hindered the healthy working of the democratic order should be removed in a way that would preclude for ever the need for similar interventions in the future.24 Most people were grateful to the generals when they took over as an answer to the preceding years of economic and political stagnation.25

The existing liberal Constitution of 1961 was replaced by an authoritarian one based on the Gaullist constitution of 1958, the trade union movement was smashed, the universities were purged and centralised and the press was muzzled.26

The use of torture became widespread and systematic during the time of the junta in Turkey. A number of suspects and prisoners were dying in suspicious circumstances. The regime never denied the existence of torture but said that all charges were investigated and the guilty punished. Public opinion in Europe became very critical of the regime.27

Because Washington provided material and moral support, the junta felt sufficiently confident to continue with repression. They relied on Turkey’s growing strategic importance in the region to maintain good relations with the US.28

The Turkish military perceived their role as custodians of national legitimacy, restoring public order while preparing the country for a transition to a functioning democratic system. The transition to civilian rule began when the new Constitution was accepted by a public referendum in 1982. The end of military rule came on 6 November 1983 and was viewed as a triumph for the forces of civilian control. A general election yielded a victory for the Motherland party, with Turgut Özal becoming prime minister.29 An impressive majority of the Turkish people appears to have accepted the legitimacy of the coup and showed its respect for the regime’s achievements in the constitutional referendum.30

3.The comparative analysis

3.1 The theoretical framework

For the following analysis of the military regimes in Turkey and Greece I am referring to the theoretical assumptions that are shortly introduced here.

3.1.1 Civil-military relationships by Nordlinger and Janowitz

Nordlinger and Janowitz31 distinguish between 3 different models of civil-military control:

In the traditional - aristocratic model civil and military powers are shared by the same aristocratic class which avoids conflicts between the two elites. But in modern states the two elites are markedly differentiated which makes the application of this model on modern states unlikely.

The liberal - democratic model is familiar in pluralist democracies. The military is differentiated from the civil power but subordinated to it. The soldiers accept the authority of the civilian government even if they disagree with its policies. They accept civilian control over the armed forces´ budget and internal structure and they don’t make policy on their own.

The totalitarian - penetration model rests on political control of the military by a centralised and authoritarian one party political system. Political conformity is rewarded. Political officers are frequently attached to regiments as a mechanism of direct control and the regular military forces are often counter-balanced by secret police or paramilitary forces commanded by the ruling party.

All the three models describe non-praetorian regimes. That means that the military is subordinated to the civil authority and does not itself exercise independent political power.32

3.1.2 Types of military regime by Nordlinger, Clapham and Philip

These types are differentiated by their aims, length of time in power and degree of penetration into and control over political, economic and social structures. Veto regimes exercise veto power over governmental decisions, without taking over power themselves.33


1 See Koliopoulos and Veremis (2002), p. 153.

2 See Clogg (1992), p. 167.

3 See Veremis (1997), p. 163.

4 Ibid., p. 159.

5 See AHistoryofGreece (without year), view Internet Sources.

6 Ibid.

7 See Blum (1995), view Internet Sources.

8 See AHistoryofGreece (without year), view Internet Sources.

9 See Greecetravel (2007), view Internet Sources.

10 See Tsortzis (2003), p. 3, view Internet Sources.

11 See AHistoryofGreece (without year), view Internet Sources.

12 See Tsortzis (2003), p. 3, view Internet Sources.

13 See AHistoryofGreece (without year), view Internet Sources.

14 See Veremis (1997), p. 162.

15 Ibid., p. 165.

16 See Clogg (1992), p. 165.

17 See Veremis (1997), p. 167.

18 See Ahmad (1993), p. 1f.

19 See Hale (1994), p. 240.

20 See Sansal (2007), view Internet Sources.

21 See Ahmad (1993), p. 13.

22 See Poulton (1997), p. 181.

23 See Sansal (2007), view Internet Sources.

24 See Ahmad (1993), p. 183.

25 See Sansal (2007), view Internet Sources.

26 See Ahmad (1993), p. 13.

27 Ibid, p. 185.

28 See Ahmad (1993), p. 185.

29 See Sansal (2007), view Internet Sources.

30 See Hale (1994), p. 271.

31 See Nordlinger (1977), p. 10-18 and Janowitz (1977), p. 79-80.

32 See Hale (1994), p. 308f.

33 See Nordlinger (1977), p. 21-27 and Clapham/ Philip p. 8-10.

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Military regimes in Turkey and Greece - A comparative analysis
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Susanne Voigt (Author), 2007, Military regimes in Turkey and Greece - A comparative analysis , Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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