Military makes statement on debate over Hürriyet report
ANKARATurkey’s military has made a statement on a recent debate over a report in daily Hürriyet that was also heavily criticized by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The military said on Feb. 28 that recent “unfounded and ill-intentioned” criticism toward Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar aimed at casting a shadow on the Turkish Armed Forces’ (TSK) struggle against terrorism.
Following such criticism, the military made a statement to a journalist, read the statement.
The TSK said it did not use any expressions of “unease.”
“We regret efforts to blur the agenda with allegations and defamation at a time when the Euphrates Shield operation [in northern Syria] is progressing successfully. Suggesting that there are problems between the Turkish Armed Forces and the government distorts the issue,” read the statement, ading that the interlocutors for the “answers to the criticism were known.”
Daily Hürriyet ran an article by Ankara Bureau Chief Hande Fırat on Feb. 25, which cited military sources outlining the General Staff’s stance on seven issues on which they had been subjected to criticism. The headline of the newspaper read “Seven Answers to Seven Criticisms,” while the headline on the inside page read “Unease at military HQ.”
The headline on the inside page specifically drew Erdoğan’s criticism.
“Of course the headline on the inside was very ugly,” he told reporters at Ataturk International Airport before leaving for a regional economic summit in Pakistan.
“These expressions have disturbed us and they have disturbed the TSK even more. It is impossible that our armed forces would not be disturbed about an issue that disturbs us. We are like the organs of the same body,” Erdoğan said, defining the report as rude.
“Neither the newspaper’s management and bosses nor the staff are capable of writing such a headline; they cannot be,” he said, adding that legal steps would be taken,” he said.
The president said the “Seven answers to seven criticisms” headline would also bring the military forces under suspicion.
“Those who are trying to set us at odds with each other will pay a heavy price for that.”
“I do not find such approaches acceptable at a time that we need brotherhood more than ever,” Erdoğan said.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, meanwhile, said it was unfair to accuse Hürriyet Ankara bureau chief Fırat on the matter, criticizing the army for “trying to convey its disturbances through the media.”
“The accusation toward a female journalist who played a successful role in thwarting the coup d’état on July 15  thanks to the news she covered is, in our opinion, a strange contradiction and distortion,” Bahçeli told his party members in parliament on Feb. 28.
Fırat, the Ankara representative of CNN Türk at the time, was the first journalist to put Erodğan online via FaceTime during the bloody coup attempt on July 15, 2016, allowing him to make a call to the nation to take the streets to foil the attempt.
The Istanbul headquarters of Hürriyet and CNN Türk, two Doğan Holding media companies, were raided by coup soldiers during the attempt before they were dragged out by police in clashes.