Wednesday, 17 December 2014

What the Columnists Say

Published in Roundup of Columnists
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The detentions of Gülenist media personalities have led to a discussion whether or not they deserve support in the name of the freedom of expression, against the background of the joint Gülenist-AKP assaults against the opposition and media in the past. Ekrem Dumanlı, the editor in chief of the Gülenist daily Zaman, who was one of those who was detained, defends past editorial policy, writing that “We honestly appropriated the Ergenekon investigation and lent whatever earnest support to it that we could,” because, he claims, there were many known examples of journalists collaborating with coup makers. Dumanlı concedes that some things that were published may have been “over the mark,” but he asks critical colleagues to support him nonetheless and not “make the same mistake against us.” Güray Öz in Cumhuriyet writes that “no journalist can be deprived of support because of what he has done in the past,” but that the assault against it today does not absolve Gülenist media from its responsibilities for what it has committed in the past.

 

 

DUMANLI: WE EXPECT AND DESERVE SUPPORT FROM OUR COLLEAGUES EVEN IF DID SOMETHING WRONG IN THE PAST

Ekrem Dumanlı in Zaman writes that as we are expecting support from our colleagues we are facing criticism such as “But you also committed mistakes.” We honestly appropriated the Ergenekon investigation and lent whatever earnest support to it that we could. We wanted these legal investigations to end the coup tradition, to give stronger foundations to democracy. There are tens of cases that show the relations that have existed between media and coup makers when they collaborated to create conditions conducive for coups. In order to understand us, you have to bear this in mind. Still there might be colleagues who think that we did wrong in our democratic and judicious editorial policy aimed against Ergenekon. Let’s assume that you are right and that some of the things that we published were indeed over the mark; do you have to make the same mistake against us?

KARAGÜL: DUMANLI IS NOT ONLY A JOURNALIST

İbrahim Karagül in Yeni Şafak writes that as a journalist my first unthinking reflex should be to object to the detention of journalists. But we all know that this is not a problem about media and journalists. If they had been successful after December 17, 2013, tens of journalists would now have been in prison. What we are looking at now is the first example of a journalist challenging the state in a way that has nothing to do with the freedom of expression. This is a structure – and these are the media institutions of this structure – that frames the government, the military, other congregations, journalists, businessmen, members of the judiciary, intellectuals and just about any circle in the implementation of its secret agenda. Ekrem Dumanlı may mount a challenge from his newspaper, he can even put on a show, seek impunity under the cover of journalism. No journalist should use the power and opportunities that the profession provides as a cover for other things. If we turn journalism into a weapon, to the prolonged arm of a power struggle, then we are forced to talk in a language other than that of journalism.

SELVİ: IT WAS WRONG TO DETAIN THE JOURNALISTS

Abdülkadir Selvi in Yeni Şafak reacts against the detentions of the publishers of Zaman and Samanyolu Television. Was it right of the police to go to Zaman and take Ekrem Dumanlı into custody? Didn’t this legitimize those who claim that the press is suppressed and who seek worldwide attention? What was done didn’t accomplish anything but tarnish the international image of Turkey. This was not the right thing to do. What’s the crime of a journalist as long as he has not gotten involved in violence or fabricated false evidence? Just like the case was in the past with Ergenekon, now a bag called parallel structure has been opened and everyone is thrown into it. I believe that this impairs the struggle against the parallel structure. And I oppose it.

ÖZ: GÜLENIST JOURNALISTS SHOULD BE DEFENDED TODAY BUT THEY CANNOT BE TRUSTED GIVEN THEIR PAST MISSDEEDS

Güray Öz in Cumhuriyet writes that the assault that they are faced with today does not make the Gülenists into democrats. It does not absolve them of their responsibilities for what they have done in the past. In our opposition against an oppressive regime we cannot discriminate against journalists; no journalist can be deprived of support because of what he has done in the past. But the assault of the AKP also needs to be put in its ideological context. There is an ideological ground for what’s being done, and in this regard there is no deep difference that separates the AKP and the Gülenists. The ideological common ground assures that strategic and tactical partnerships that have been temporarily ruptured can always easily be patched back together. The Gülenist-AKP fight does not amount to anything else than a crack in the front against us. Sure, the ethics of journalism require that Gülenist journalists, theirs past misdeeds notwithstanding, are defended today. But trust them – now, that’s a whole different matter.

KAHRAMAN: LET’S NOT GET TOO COZY WITH RUSSIA – THAT HAS ALWAYS BROUGHT COUPS ON US

Hasan Bülent Kahraman in Sabah puts the recent pipeline offer made by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Turkey into historical context, making the observation that Turkish leaders who have strayed too close to Russia have ended up being deposed. The precedent of Süleyman Demirel, who governed successfully between 1965 and 1971, when Turkish growth rates averaged seven percent yearly, and who was nonetheless deposed in a coup in 1971 is a scary reminder.  His former foreign minister later said that “the U.S. deposed us.” And the reason was allegedly that Demirel had made three major industrial deals with the Soviet Union. And looking even further back, we know that the close entourage of Adnan Menderes, who was overthrown in the 1960 coup, for many years on kept claiming that the United States had been behind his ouster. And the reason was that Menderes, just like Demirel, had insisted on pursuing an industrialization that would have made Turkey independent of the United States, and that he had flirted with Russia to achieve this. I also view our recent past in this perspective. The U.S. has targeted every Turkish government that has steered close to Russia, especially during the Cold War. Thus, Russia is a fire for Turkey; let’s get warm by it, but beware of catching fire.

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The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.

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