Saturday, February 27, 2010

Prime Minister Erdogan Speaks

AP Photo in Hurriyet Daily News

In Spain this week as the arrests started, Prime Minister Erdogan returned home to shortly after hold a meeting with President Gul and Chief of Staff Ilker Basbug, after which the three released a statement reading that the current showdown with the General Staff will be resolved within the constitutional oder of Turkey and urging all parties to act responsibly. On Friday, the prime minister spoke at a meeting of provincial AKP party chairmen, warning the judiciary to respect the powers of the executive and not exceed its authority. Erdogan said, “Nobody needs to worry. Turkey is its raising standards for the rule of law en route to full accession to the European Union.”

The Prime Minister also spoke against critical newspapers and columnists, saying it was his responsibility to protect financial markets and the stability of Turkey. Hurriyet translates the Prime Minister's statements as follows:
“I want to call the bosses of these newspapers. You cannot say, ‘I cannot intervene in what the columnist writes.’ Nobody has a right to increase tension in this country. I cannot let such articles upset financial balances. You pay the salary of that columnist and tomorrow you will have no right to complain.”

He added: “Please, everyone should be aware of their limits. At that point, I need to warn.”

UPDATE I (3/2) -- As expected, Erdogan's remarks drew sharp criticism from many newspapers. Hurriyet runs a brief assessment of the reaction. The European Union has issued no public response to the remarks. Today the Prime Minister said his comments were "misunderstood."

UPDATE II (3/5) -- 47 columnists from a variety of perspectives have signed a petition expressing concern over Erdogan's remarks.

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