Turkish PM slams media over Kurdish talks leak, denounces ‘dark operation’

ISTANBUL – 2.3.2013 – Hürriyet – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blasted on March 2 the leak to the Turkish press of details of a meeting between the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and deputies of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), labeling it a “dark operation conducted through the media.”

Criticizing the journalists responsible for publishing the story, Erdoğan said media organs that tried to hinder the ongoing peace process were “against the government.”

The content of the alleged record of the Feb. 23 meeting published by daily Milliyet on Feb. 28 sparked huge controversy over its source, while both the BDP and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have appeared to implicitly confirm the accuracy of the report.Speaking during his visit to the western province of Balıkesir, Erdoğan argued that leaks of such information were plots designed to disrupt the peace process. “I plead to 70 million people not to give credit to malevolent news, rumors, and dark operations conducted through the media and plots laid via the media … The more we strive for peace, there will be those who try to ruin it. While we are endeavoring to stop the spilling of our martyrs’ blood, there are those who want to ruin [the process]. They appear in front of you with lies, calumnies, rumors, sabotage, operations and media plots,” he said.

‘You cannot give that headline’

Referring to daily Milliyet’s headline story, Erdoğan said the media should not have covered this report if they truly cared for the Turkish people and wanted to contribute to the steps undertaken by the government, stressing the sensitivity of the process. “If that’s how you are doing your journalism, shame on you! The media will say [the same thing all over] again: The prime minister is attacking us. But whoever tries to spoil the process inside the media is against me and my government,” he said.

Erdoğan also stated that all the rumors were lies unless confirmed by the government, asking the audience not to believe any such reports if there is no official statement. “We have taken all the risks here, so if they try to put spanners in the works, we will just throw them away,” he said, adding that the AKP had come to power in spite of the media.  

Milliyet’s report contained many critical points, from Öcalan’s suggestions regarding the current process to his comments and thoughts about Turkish politics. It also stated that the jailed PKK leader would call for truce and release a road map on March 21, the date of the Nevruz holiday.

Erdoğan also slammed the opposition, saying that the AKP was the only party that could embrace the entire Turkish population. “The main opposition [Republican People’s Party – CHP] could not open the [Turkish] flag in Hakkari [in southeastern Turkey] as it did in Balıkesir. The other one [Nationalist Movement Party – MHP] cannot even go there. However, we have a language embracing the whole country, a tone that sees everyone as brothers,” he said.