Commission on coup hears media bosses

Commission on coup hears media bosses

Commission on coup hears media bosses

A coup panel hears media bosses, including Aydın Doğan, the honorary chairman of Doğan Holding. DHA photo

Parliament’s Coups and Military Memorandum Commission on Oct. 5 listened to leading media conglomerates of Turkey give testimony particularly on their experiences during the last decade.

Among those who appeared before the commission were Aydın Doğan, honorary chairman of Doğan Holding; Dinç Bilgin, former owner of several media companies, including broadcaster ATV and the daily newspaper Sabah; Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, owner of Çukurova Media Group; Turgay Ciner, owner of Ciner Publishing Holding; and Zafer Mutlu, the former editor-in-chief of several newspapers.

Doğan explained to the commission that he never won a public tender during the Feb. 28 process, refering to the harsh army-led campaign that forced Turkey’s first Islamist prime minister the late Necmettin Erbakan to resign in June 1997. Doğan noted that a public tender he had won was cancelled by Mesut Yılmaz, who replaced Erbakan as prime minster in June 1997 after the coalition government was formed between Erbakan’s Welfare Party (RP) and Tansu Çiller’s center-right True Path Party (DYP), known as the Refahyol.

“I never used the money of public banks, not even a cent. I have always kept a distance to these kinds of things,” Doğan said, in a bid to underline that his companies had never used loans provided by public banks.

Interruptions of democratic governing in Turkey has always stemmed from “the governing styles of the politicians” at that time, Doğan said, expressing his general point of view in regards to military coups.
“If politicians are potent, if they stand tall in the face of undemocratic forces, these [interruptions] don’t happen. As a matter of fact, we saw the latest such example during the April 27 memorandum. The government stood tall,” Doğan said, referring to the military memorandum issued on April 27, 2007, against current President Abdullah Gül’s candidacy for presidency. The response of the government came swiftly, with the then-government spokesperson Cemil Çiçek reading it out on April 28, 2007.

“If Erbakan at the time had climber over the tanks, just like Yeltsin did in Russia, the soldiers would not have gone this far,” Doğan said. “Tansu Hanım recently said ‘we would have removed the top soldiers, but could not because the president would not approve it.’ This is not my job, but they could have removed the soldiers and if the president refused to approve that, they could have told the public ‘you’ve elected us to these posts, but we are denied the authority,’” Doğan said.

Doğan told the panel that a media boss meeting with commanders was not a strange event. “I’ve met First Army commanders in Istanbul at receptions because of my job,” he said. “Since they usually come from the Land Forces and the General Staff, I knew commanders from the General Staff and I meet with them. But I do not accept that those meetings were a crime or the argument that a media boss cannot meet with soldiers.”

Doğan said the military had no role in deciding what stories are used in the newspapers. “One of my papers had one of the toughest stories of the time, we had then-U.S. Secretary of State [Madeleine] Albright’s ‘We are against a non-democratic regime in Turkey’ quote, and the soldiers did not like it. The job of the newspaper is to take the picture and present it to the public.

Doğan, meanwhile, also explained that he has never fired anyone due to pressure by either the government or the military.