Tell me, please, dear prime minister

Tell me, please, dear prime minister

The journalist asked the prime minister: “Would you invest your own personal fortune in your country’s bonds?” He answered as such: “I think my country’s bonds are one of the best investments for you.”

The journalist asked the question referring to the prime minister’s money; the prime minister, however, answered the question referring to the journalist’s money.

The question is nice and amusing; the answer is also nice and clever. Well, who is this journalist and who is the prime minister? Let me give you a clue: he is a prime minister who can be asked questions with no trouble. As you can easily conclude from this clue, he is not the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

This interview was conducted last Wednesday [Feb. 5] in Athens. The person asking the questions was the editor-in-chief of Germany and Europe’s largest circulation daily Bild, Kai Diekmann.

While I was returning to Istanbul last Wednesday morning, Diekmann was flying to Athens for an interview with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. I asked Diekmann, “How did he accept to give an interview to you?” The reason why I asked was that daily Bild has adopted a harshly critical stance against Greece since the beginning of the Greek crisis.

They have suggested that Greece sell its islands to overcome the crisis. Then they sent a reporter to Athens who went around the city squares, giving old Greek money to people and asking what they think about returning to the old currency. As if that was not enough, they brought up that Greece should declare bankruptcy. Recently, they have started processing the idea that an average Greek citizen was richer than a German citizen.

In other words, Diekmann was one of these people the Greeks were angriest at since the beginning of the crisis.

But, Prime Minister Samaras met him and answered his questions. Why am I telling you this? When I saw the staff of journalists in Prime Minister Erdoğan’s plane to Berlin, this came to mind.

A few questions from me

I requested Diekman to ask a few questions to Samaras for me. Samaras answered my questions:
Question: Your neighbor Turkey has been going through political turbulence for months. How do you see these issues?

Answer: “We want a stable Turkey. After many years, we were able to develop a new, mutual partnership, which is beneficial for both sides. Indeed, without disregarding issues that have existed for years.”

Question: How is your relationship with Turkey today?

Answer: “I visited Prime Minister Erdoğan as soon as I took office. We agree, first and foremost, that we want peace in our relationship and for any differences we have, we want peaceful solutions within the scope of international law so that our countries are attractive for investors.”

Question: In Prime Minister Erdoğan’s last Germany trip, he strongly asked for Germany’s support in Turkey’s bid to the EU, but German politicians were reluctant. What do you think?

Answer: “Our stance on this subject is very clear. When Turkey fulfills EU criteria, we are open to possible membership.”

Ertuğrul Özkök is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this abridged piece was published on Feb 11. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.