Turkish President Erdoğan slams EU over remarks on media raid
President Erdoğan was speaking during an inauguration ceremony for oil refiner TÜPRAŞ’s new plant in Kocaeli. AA PhotoTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed the European Union for its “impetuous” criticism of an ongoing police operation that resulted in the high-profile detention of members of the media and police officers.
“The European Union cannot interfere in steps taken ... within the rule of law against elements that threaten our national security,” Erdoğan said on Dec. 15 in a speech delivered at an inauguration ceremony for oil refiner TÜPRAŞ’s new plant in the northwestern province of Kocaeli. “They should mind their own business.”
The raid on daily Zaman and Samanyolu TV station, which marked an escalation in Erdoğan’s battle with his erstwhile ally, U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, has drawn harsh criticism and warnings from both the European Union and the U.S.
“The police raids and arrests of a number of journalists and media representatives in Turkey today are incompatible with the freedom of media, which is a core principle of democracy,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said in the joint statement.
“This operation goes against the European values and standards Turkey aspires to be part of,” they said.
The United States also expressed concern Dec. 14 over the detentions in Turkey of more than two dozen media figures.
Erdoğan vowed not to engage in any reconciliation after police raids into the two media outlets close Gülen and the detention of dozens of people, suggesting that events are part of Turkey’s “normalization” process.
“Neither inside the country nor abroad will we reconcile in any way with those who still try to draw a direction for Turkey through perception management operations, fabricated news articles and fabricated front-page stories,” he said.
“Don’t pay attention to lies. Very beautiful developments are happening now and will continue to happen in Turkey. All of this is part of a normalization process,” Erdoğan said.
“I wonder if those who have kept this country at the EU doorstep for 50 years know what this step means?” he said, referring to the detentions.
“Elements that threaten our national security will receive the necessary response, even if they are members of the press,” he said. “When taking such a step we don’t care what the EU might say, or if the EU is going to accept us. We don’t care... Please keep your mind to yourself.”
Later in the day, during a signing ceremony for a Turkish satellite, Erdoğan implied that the Gülen movement was a “gang of betrayal,” which had also snuck into TÜBİTAK, the country’s top body that also produces the satellite.
“Staff that was hired for scientific works was involved in efforts to wiretap [me], the chief of staff, the Constitutional Court, and Cabinet ministers,” he said.
Erdoğan and the Gülen movement have been in an open conflict since a corruption probe targeting Erdoğan’s inner circle was launched a year ago.
The president accuses the Gülen movement of attempting to topple the government.
The Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD), a prominent business group, said in a statement that the judicial process was once again impinging on press freedom. The group asked for a “just and transparent process that would satisfy the public” and take press freedom into consideration.