Doğan Holding president praises Demirel’s stance on press freedom
ISTANBULSüleyman Demirel, Turkey’s ninth president who passed away early June 17, never used the state’s power against free press, Doğan Holding Honorary President Aydın Doğan has said to private broadcaster CNN Türk.
“He [Demirel] was a person who had well digested the concept of democracy and he was tolerant with criticism,” Doğan said. “We have lost a worthy politician.”
Doğan said he invited Demirel to a dinner at his house last summer in the resort town of Bodrum, a district in the Mediterranean province of Muğla. “I have sometimes gotten angry with your publications, but I have never thought to use the state power against you,” Doğan said Demirel told him during a conversation between the two at the dinner, adding Demirel said the best thing he and Doğan had done was the opening the private broadcaster CNN Türk.
Demirel was among the attendees of the opening ceremony of CNN Türk, where he delivered a speech on free press on Oct. 11, 1999. Demirel then wished success to CNN Türk, the then-newborn Turkish private broadcaster opened jointly by CNN and the Doğan Media Group.
“The right to receive accurate information is one of the most essential human rights. There is no democracy if one does not have the right to true information. Free press is the linchpin of democracy. Information has no limit and press keeps open the communication channels between state and society. That is why press should be free,” Demirel said in his speech.
Demirel also told Doğan after the parliamentary elections in 2002, which made the Justice and Development Party (AKP) the ruling party, that CNN Türk’s deceased anchorman Mehmet Ali Birand’s efforts during the election broadcast had been more important than those of many international media organizations.
“I admiringly watched [CNN Türk’s election broadcast]. You [CNN Türk] announced estimated election results earlier. I appreciated your assessment and it was almost real results,” Doğan quoted Demirel as saying.
Demirel thought independent and free press was the backbone of democracy, Doğan said. “Ruling parties and governments get angry. That is par for the course. However, he [Demirel] had never made problems out of this and turned this into a fight. So, he was very glad with the existence of such a television channel like CNN Türk,” he added.