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Turkey Appoints New Armed Forces Chiefs

New Turkish Chief of the General Staff, General Necdet Ozel
Turkey has appointed a new head of the armed forces and chiefs of the army, navy and air force to replace four top generals who resigned last week in a dispute with the government.

President Abdullah Gul approved the appointments, which came at the end of a four-day meeting of the Supreme Military Council.

General Necdet Ozel, previously head of the paramilitary Gendarmerie, was appointed Chief of the General Staff of the second-largest armed force in NATO.

It was for the first time that the civilian government appointed the leadership of Turkey's powerful military.

Turkey's ambassador to the Czech Republic, Cihad Erginay, told RFE/RL the move showed that Turkish democracy is coming of age.

"This shows how the democracy in Turkey is maturing, how the civilian control over military affairs is improving," he said.

The chief of Turkey's general staff and the commanders of the army, navy and air force resigned last week in protest at the arrests and prosecution of hundreds of military officers over alleged attempts to overthrow the Islamist-rooted government.

with agency reports