Criticisms rain down on Erdoğan from abroad

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was criticized by the British newspaper The Observer after The Economist and Time magazines and the New York Times. The article in The Observer says Erdoğan's real problem is not his driving away of the Kemalist secular people, but the rising number of liberal intellectuals who once supported the prime minister but are now starting to see him as a fragile, domineering and authoritarian leader

The Economist faces barrage of accusations from Turkish gov't

Top officials from Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, have unleashed an unprecedented barrage of accusations days ahead of the June 12 general elections. This time, however, those accused are not leaders or members of opposition parties, but an international weekly magazine.

The Economist's main article "One for the opposition," published June 2, has drawn the wrath of Turkish government officials. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ministers have responded with fury directed at the magazine, going as far as to imply that The Economist is part of an Israeli conspiracy that aims to topple the Turkish government.

In its article, The Economist opined that the best way for Turkish citizens to promote democracy would be "to vote against the ruling party" and for the main opposition, the Republican People's Party, or CHP. "A stronger showing by [the CHP] would both reduce the risks of unilateral changes that would make the Constitution worse and give the opposition a fair chance of winning a future election," the magazine said.

In an interview with the TGRT news channel Saturday evening, Erdoğan said the AKP would come to power once again "in defiance of domestic and international media."

"This international media, as they are supported by Israel, would not be happy with the continuation of the AKP government," the Anatolia news agency quoted Erdoğan as saying. "Of course, they have their hands on Turkey nowadays."

Recalling the Davos incident

Asked whether this alleged anti-government activity is "revenge" in the aftermath of Erdoğan's outburst against Israeli President Shimon Peres in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 31, 2009, the prime minister said what he did at the time was "an Islamic duty" as well as a humanitarian one. "I cannot forget the scene at the [Gaza] beach. I cannot forget how that child died when the Israelis murdered seven people there. That was what lay behind my words [to Peres] when I told them they knew well to kill people."

International media organizations are "surely in collaboration" with the CHP, Erdoğan added. "If the same [magazine] had called for a vote for the AKP, I would have found that abnormal, too," he said.

Speaking in Ankara on Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek said it is not important what "those from the outside" say about the general elections. "We take power from the people, not from foreign magazines," Çiçek told journalists.

"[Turkish people naively] think those foreign magazines never pen articles in return for payment and never write headlines by calculating the expectations of the capital behind their publications," he said. "Look at the interest groups behind this: Some circles, inside and outside, are uncomfortable with our policies."

"Behind those magazines are the capitalists of those countries," Çiçek said, referring to the countries he said have been uncomfortable with government policies implemented by the AKP since 2007.

Speaking in an interview Sunday on the private channel NTV, State Minister Egemen Bağış claimed that the "dark elites" who want to prevent an AKP victory have been attacking the ruling party "in collaboration with international dark elites who control the international media."

It was Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek, however, who took action over his criticism, by deciding to "unfollow" The Economist on the social-networking website Twitter. The minister explained his decision in a series of short messages posted on his Twitter account over the weekend.

"Dear friends, after reading the shockingly prejudiced & blatantly politically motivated article about #Turkey & #AkParti on @TheEconomist .... l've decided to Unfollow #theEconomist, one of very few publications I'd been following on twitter & been an avid reader of for a long time," Şimşek wrote. In other messages, he accused the magazine of "poor journalism at best & serving 'a certain agenda' at worst."

Turkish PM says some Israel-backed media organs not pleased with AKP ruling

The Turkish prime minister said on Saturday that several Israel-backed international media organs were not pleased with the Justice and Development (AK) Party ruling in Turkey.

Speaking at a TV program broadcast by TGRT Haber channel, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan commented on several U.S. and British media organs' recent remarks calling on Turkish citizens to vote for Republican People's Party (CHP), not for AK Party, in June 12 elections in Turkey.

"These calls have been well-timed, because they show that we are on the right track. They cannot make any decisions concerning Turkey," Erdogan said. "Several international press organs, which get support from Israel, are unhappy with AK Party's administration and are searching ways to ruin this ruling. These institutions have supporters in Turkey as well," the prime minister said.

Erdogan noted that such calls made by international press organs made him think that these institutions might be in cooperation with certain national circles. He said foreign media's commenting on issues such as democracy, new constitution and rights & freedoms would be normal, however, its call for support for a certain party could not be considered a democratic action.

Commenting on Turkish economy as well, Erdogan said he believed Turkey would make a remarkable progress in real investments in 2012. The premier said he had no concerns regarding current account deficit, adding that Turkey would easily overcome all its problems as long as it stood on its feet firmly.

Upon a question on whether he exerted pressure on the Turkish media or business circles, Erdogan said the insulting news articles prepared by several press organs about his family or party showed that he did not impose any pressure on any media organ.

Revealing his approach to the Turkish business world, Erdogan also said that not a single capital circle could explicitly express its support for a certain political party as they were obliged to work with all incoming governments. The prime minister noted that any Turkish industrialist or entrepreneur displaying such a stance would be taking a risk.

'We cannot interfere with NGOs,' says Turkish President Gül

Turkish President Abdullah Gül on Sunday reiterated the government's earlier claims that it has no ability to stop an aid flotilla bound for Gaza, as the trip is being organized by a nongovernmental organization.

"It is out of the question for the state to organize or direct NGOs toward anything. NGOs make their own decisions," Gül said, responding to calls from the United States and Israel to stop the flotilla from departing.

President Gül issued the statement to members of the press at Istanbul's Atatürk Airport shortly before leaving on an official trip to Poland.

Gül's statements echo those made by other government figures, who have insisted that calls for Turkey to stop the flotilla would amount to intervening in the country's civil society. Last month, a group of U.S. congressmen sent a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asking him to prevent the flotilla from causing a "provocation" that might lead to a repeat of last year's violence.

The Mavi Marmara, one ship in last year's convoy to Gaza, was boarded May 31, 2010, by Israeli defense forces who killed eight Turks and one Turkish-American.

Gül on Sunday went on to criticize the Israeli blockade of Gaza as illegal and lacking international legitimacy.

"This embargo has no legal basis and has no place within the framework of international law. As such, many NGOs from around the world are trying to send aid to Gaza," he said.

Paris, not Hakkari

French police raided associations of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in Paris and detained five people, including Nedim Seven, who is known as the "chief financial officer of the terrorist organization." The Villiers le Bel and Evry neighborhoods turned into battlefields when PKK members resisted the police. Ten people were injured during the clashes, with five of them left in life-threatening condition. The train station was occupied and garbage containers were set on fire.

Commander resigns

It has been revealed that Gen. Mehmet Yılmaz Erdoğan, chairman of the intelligence unit of the Turkish Air Force, resigned about two months ago. It has been claimed that Erdoğan resigned after some allegations about his private life appeared on Internet sites.

Is it Başbuğ and Büyükanıt's turn?

It has been claimed that 25 retired and active soldiers, including former chiefs of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ and Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt will be called to give testimony within the scope of the Balyoz ("Sledgehammer") coup-plot investigation.

NATO's plan for İzmir

Despite rumors that NATO's command in Turkey's Aegean province of İzmir would be closed down, the organization has decided to change the task of the command and designate it with a more important mission. Accordingly, NATO's air command in İzmir will become a land base that will be used for critical assignments. NATO defense ministers are expected to make important decisions regarding the organization's restructuring process during their meeting in Brussels on June 8-9. Within that framework, NATO is getting prepared to move its Land Component Command, currently based in Spain, to Turkey.

'We want to be like Turkey'

Members of the "Tahrir youth" who overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt spoke to daily Sabah: "We especially want to know how the [Turkish] army was drawn away from politics. Our dream is to found a civil and secular country like Turkey."

Record large rally

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addressed more than 1 million people at his Justice and Development Party, or AKP's, election rally in the Kazlıçeşme neighborhood of Istanbul. "Victory will be ours, I'm proud of you," Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan asks for 367 MPs for new constitution

Speaking at his party's election rally in Istanbul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, "Our biggest project is to make a libertarian constitution. We need 367 deputies to achieve this goal." Noting that his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, party wanted a civilian and participatory constitution, Erdoğan said, "If we come to the Parliament with more than 367 deputies, we will start studies on the constitution right away."

'They don't know about 1923 – how can they speak about 2023?'

Main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu targeted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his party's election rallies in the Central Anatolian provinces of Aksaray and Kayseri. "Those who do not have the spirit of 1923 cannot talk about the year 2023," Kılıçdaroğlu told the crowds, referring to the year the Turkish Republic was established. The chairman also said Turkey's current government was unproductive.

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