Erdoğan insults Milliyet editor after PKK top story, reduces owner to tears

7 March 2014 /İSTANBUL, TODAY’S ZAMAN – A newly leaked audio recording allegedly reveals Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan insulted a media mogul for running a critical news story and reducing him to tears.

Erdoğan is heard in the audio clip, leaked by Twitter user Başçalan and uploaded onto YouTube on Thursday, bashing the owner of the Milliyet daily, Erdoğan Demirören, for a story run by the newspaper about the minutes of a meeting between pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy (BDP) deputies and the imprisoned leader of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, in March 2013.In early March of last year, minutes of the meeting between the BDP deputies and the PKK chief were leaked to the media and Milliyet ran the story. The report, which made public Öcalan’s thoughts on the talks between the government and the PKK to end the three-decade-old Kurdish dispute and armed conflict, sent shockwaves across the country. The report also included Öcalan’s thoughts on several politicians and opinion leaders.

Erdoğan bashed the Milliyet daily at the time, accusing it of attempting to sabotage the settlement process, which was in its nascent stage then.

The newly leaked recording reveals that Erdoğan spoke with Milliyet owner Demirören right after the publication of the news report about the minutes of the İmralı meeting. Erdoğan is heard asking Demirören to fire the editor-in-chief and Namık Durukan, the correspondent who wrote the article after obtained the minutes from a whistleblower.Erdoğan says the settlement process is a very delicate issue and that media outlets are expected to show outmost sensitiveness not to raise [nationalist sentiment] against the government’s initiative.The Milliyet owner is heard offering his apology for the news piece, which, according to Erdoğan, is detrimental to the critical talks with the PKK as part of the settlement process, and assures the prime minister that he would do what is necessary — to fire the editor-in-chief and the reporter. Toward the end of the conversation, the Milliyet owner is heard crying, expressing his regret over entering the media business. “Why did I get involved in this [business]?” Demirören, who is 76 years old, is heard saying while crying following the heavy insults from the Turkish prime minister.