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Turkish PM targets Economist magazine, journalist Nuray Mert

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News | 6/3/2011 12:00:00 AM |

PM Erdoğan leveled harsh criticism Friday at a British magazine for urging the Turkish electorate to vote for the main opposition party to improve Turkey's democracy.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan leveled harsh criticism Friday at the British magazine the Economist for an article urging the Turkish electorate to vote for the main opposition party to improve the country’s democracy.

“If they knew a little about the Republican People’s Party [CHP], they would know that democracy and the CHP can’t come together and they haven’t come together throughout history,” Erdoğan said, addressing a huge crowd in the conservative Central Anatolian province of Konya.

“I am calling on the Economist: You are French to this country. And you are French to the CHP as well,” he said, referring to a common phrase used in Turkey when somebody does not know something or speaks out of context.

“The CHP’s new leader is not a national project but an international project. We knew that the CHP’s new leader was part of the project of gangs in Turkey, but we didn’t know that it is also the project of global gangs,” Erdoğan said at the election rally for his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

Describing the publication of the article as inconsiderate, Erdoğan said he would have displayed the same reaction if the same magazine had written in favor of the AKP.

In an article dated June 2, the Economist said Turkish voters returning to Erdoğan in the June 12 general elections would not be surprising in the light of the developments since the party came to power. The magazine, however, also described the situation as worrying. 

“Mr. Erdoğan is riding sufficiently high in the polls to get quite close to the two-thirds parliamentary majority that he craves because it would allow him unilaterally to rewrite the constitution. That would be bad for Turkey. This judgment is not based on the canard that a theocracy is being built,” the article said.

“The real worry about the AK party [AKP]’s untrammeled rule concerns democracy, not religion. Ever since Mr. Erdoğan won his battles with the army and the judiciary, he has faced few checks or balances. That has freed him to indulge his natural intolerance of criticism and fed his autocratic instincts,” it read.

Noting that corruption was on the rise, press freedom was under attack and more journalists were in prison, the magazine thus called on Turks to vote for the CHP against the ruling party to promote democracy.

Without naming the journalist, Erdoğan also criticized daily Milliyet columnist Nuray Mert for her statements to media outlets of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, that the government constructed double highways to ease the operations against Kurds. 

“How you can be so calm to the [pro-Kurdish] Peace and Democracy Party [BDP], but aggressive to the AKP? You defend the PKK, not those who burn the faces of children in Cizre,” Erdoğan said.

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