The media on PM Erdoğan’s plane to Berlin
The other evening, I ran across a Turkish group while entering the new favorite hotel in Berlin, the Ritz Carlton. The one among them with the long grey hair looked familiar. When he went into the elevator, I recognized him. He was Turkey’s ambassador to Berlin.
That moment, it dawned on me that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would be staying here. Just by coincidence, we will be staying in the same hotel.
I don’t remember how many years it has been since I have stayed in the same venue as Prime Minister Erdoğan. After the 2007 elections, I was taken off the accreditation list. I regard the accreditation practice of politicians to be their right. During his presidential term, François Mitterrand spoke to only five journalists.
When I was off the PM’s list, I recognized this: Indeed it is important to be on that plane, in terms of journalism. But not riding there also provides a major lightness to the journalist. I have been enjoying this lightness a lot in recent years.
It is a coincidence that I am staying in the same hotel with the PM, but at the same time it is no coincidence.
I came here to cover Prime Minister Erdoğan’s Germany visit. Not for daily Hürriyet, but for daily Bild. I have a weekly column in Bild. They asked me to cover this visit for them. I cleared it with my editor-in-chief Enis Berberoğlu and came to Berlin on Sunday (Feb. 2). They made the hotel reservation. In short, I am a reporter covering Erdoğan’s visit after many years.
The reason I accepted this offer is that I am working on a new book and I have been focusing too much. When Bild’s offer came, I loved it.
There are nearly 3 million people of Turkish origin in Germany and Bild is the largest circulating daily here. It is good that this visit is covered through the eyes of a Turkish journalist. Another reason I accepted is that the PM has turned his eyes again to the European Union.
Turkey has been tottering a lot in recent years. It has made historic mistakes in its foreign policy. But all the crises that erupted have shown us how important and critical it is to stay within the EU’s geography. I support Erdoğan’s return to this geography. My first impression is that Erdoğan is visiting the strongest country in the EU.
I wonder whether I will come across Egemen Bağış, who was the minister in charge of EU affairs. I remembered the words Bağış said before the German elections. While he was criticizing German Prime Minister Angela Merkel, he said, “She will go fishing like Sarkozy after she loses the elections.”
Merkel obtained one of the best results in the elections in her political career. In other words, she is more powerful today. Bağış, on the other hand, had to quit his ministerial post because of corruption claims.
Therefore, it is better not to make any fishing jokes in politics. I wonder whether Bağış will apologize?
75 percent of Turkish media
I checked the journalists that were accompanying the PM. Nobody from dailies Hürriyet, Posta, Zaman, Haber Türk or Radikal were there. I calculated that almost 75 percent of the Turkish media was not present on the plane. There was almost nobody from the mainstream media that still represents rationality in Turkey.
The media staff on the plane reflects well Erdoğan’s vision of the media. “You are either with me or you are my enemy...” In other words, impartiality is not a thing he understands or accepts.
When you don’t take 75 percent of the media in your plane, the aircraft is lighter. But, do not forget, the journalists and papers are also lighter... There are some moments when to be outside the plane is better than being taken inside the plane.