Tributes pour in for Birand from across the political spectrum

Tributes pour in for Birand from across the political spectrum

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Tributes pour in for Birand from across the political spectrum

This file photo shows Mehmet Ali Birand (L) shaking hands with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan(R). AA Photo

Statesmen, politicians, friends and colleagues all expressed their sorrow Jan. 18 for the passing of veteran journalist Mehmet Ali Birand.

President Abdullah Gül has extended his condolences to the family and friends of veteran journalist Mehmet Ali Birand following his death on Thursday, saying he felt great sorrow for the loss.

“Mehmet Ali Birand was a respected journalist with his ‘sui generis’ style, courage, frankness, and successful professional career. Birand, a symbolic figure of leadership in journalism, brought a breath of fresh air to the Turkish press with his columns, news programs, interviews, documentaries and books.

We will always cherish his memory, and remember him with respect. I give my condolences to all of Turkey,” Gül said.

Prominent journalist Birand, whose biggest fear in life was ‘being ordinary,’ will be
laid to rest JAn 19 with ceremonies at Doğan TV Center at 10 a.m. and Teşvikiye Mosque at 12.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also extended his condolences to the legendary journalist’s family.
“The esteemed Birand was always appreciated by his readers and audience for his passion for his job. He will always be remembered as a distinguished and esteemed journalist through the works he left behind,” Erdoğan said.

“I felt a deep sorrow when I heard about the death of Birand, who was a leading name in the free press. He always wanted the people to be informed about the truth. I hope his dream will come true one day. I give my condolences to his family, the press world and all Turkey,” Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Aydın Doğan, honorary chairman of Doğan Holding, said Birand was a prominent figure in Turkish media.

“He was a friend of mine for 35 years, had been together since he began his professional career,” Doğan said Jan. 18 after paying a visit to the Birand family. “He was Brussels representative of daily Milliyet. He was also among the founders of the CNN. He was ready to do everything for collecting news stories. He even risked death for news. He used to say ‘write what you see rather than what you hear.’ And you should follow his path. His death was sudden and untimely; my heart is bleeding. As his boss, I never interfered with him. In 1988, he made an interview with [the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, leader] Abdullah Öcalan. But they withdrew the newspapers [covering that story] from the stands. He was an honest journalist.”

Greece’s former prime minister, George Papandreou, also commented on Birand’s death, offering condolences to his family and friends.

“We lost a logical, humorous, loving voice today,” Papandreou said. “He was a friend of Greece, and he was a friend of mine. We will miss him dearly.”

Co-chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, also expressed his condolences, saying it was “unfortunate that he [Birand] couldn’t live to see peace” and describing him as a “symbol of free, independent, brave and objective journalism.”

Former President Süleyman Demirel said the Turkish nation had “lost a very valuable son … To me and everyone else, Birand was an irreplaceable person who served his country greatly.”

Birand’s colleague Ali Kırca paid a visit to the Birand family to extend his condolences on Jan. 18. “We have woken up to the first day without Birand. Now our sorrow is deeper than yesterday. He was an important figure in shaping Turkey’s current position,” Kırca said.

Consul General of the Russian Federation in Istanbul, Alexey Erkhov, said Birand “will be remembered as an outstanding political observer whose profound analytical reviews fairly gained him a fame of a media legend.”