Convention ended even before it started

Convention ended even before it started

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The long-expected Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) general convention ended, for me, on Saturday, a day before it was set to begin, when I heard six newspapers and two news channels were banned from covering the event. The party management barred dailies Cumhuriyet, Sözcü, Birgün, Evrensel, Aydınlık and Yeniçağ as well news channels IMC and Aydınlık TV, all media outlets that serve as opponents to the government.Cumhuriyet’s Ankara Representative Utku Çakırözer’s participation on a news program on HaberTürk TV late Saturday was also prevented by the AKP party as it was set to take place at the Arena Hall.

No ordinary meeting

Yesterday’s convention was not an ordinary AKP meeting. Its leader and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan outlined the party’s vision for 2023, the year when Turkey will mark its centennial anniversary.

 Erdoğan’s two-and-half-hour-long speech was his last address before leaving the party’s chairmanship in 2015, or in 2014 if he is set to run for the presidency. In any case, many analysts expected Erdoğan to embrace even those who were critical to him and his government. On the contrary, Erdoğan continued with his media-bashing campaign, saying “they will never be defeated through the media headlines which aim to hurt the unity of the AKP.”

One other important observation on Erdoğan’s long speech is Erdoğan’s preference not to mention Turkey’s aspiration to join the European Union. He did not speak a single sentence on Turkey-EU ties.

As proven in the last five years, suspending relations with Brussels makes Turkey drift farther and farther from democratic values. Instead, he opted to use strong language against Turkey’s Western allies, naming France and Germany and indirectly the United States, in the wake of growing debate over whether the movie insulting Muslims could be considered acceptable within the boundaries of freedom of expression. Erdoğan indirectly slammed one of his best international friends, Barrack Obama, strongly refuting the American president’s views on the matter.

Already frustrated by and at odds with the West over Syria, Erdoğan gave a portrait of a Middle Eastern leader whose vision does not go beyond Belgrade. Despite his emotional speech with a not-so-clear farewell message, the PM implied that he will continue to run Turkey until 2023 under its given vision. So long for genuine democracy and for free press.