In an Extended Meeting of Provincial Chairman in Ankara on Friday (26 February) Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was not going to "accept the provocations of the opposition and the media". He argued that the opposition should not obstruct the duty of the independent judiciary and that media bosses should get their columnists under control.
"Columnists turn this country upside down!"
Prime Minister Erdoğan criticized the media: "The columnists have the right to criticize me, but I also have to warn them". He called media bosses to get their columnists under control and accused the writers of "putting a strain on the country and turning the economy upside down".
The Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) said that Erdoğan once more exploits the principles of the constitutional state when he implies to lay off columnists who criticize what the government is doing.
In his speech Erdoğan described the media as "provocative" and the columnists' comments as "inappropriate and nasty". TGS emphasized that it was in fact the Prime Minister's announcement that was 'inappropriate and nasty'.
Journalists Union criticized Prime Minister
TGS pointed out that the Prime Minister called for throwing members of the press out of work who are fulfilling their duty. The Journalists Union criticized:
* In a democratic state there should be no such thing as the Prime Minister's efforts to detain the expression of thoughts from journalists and columnists, to attempt to keep them in line with the government and to have them ask for "permission" for their comments.
* This kind of intervention, these attempts for censorship and auto-censorship do not correspond with the resolutions of the European Court of Human Rights related to press freedom and freedom of expression.
* The employees' rights are regulated by the Labour Law and collective labour agreements. The enforced labour laws protect the rights of press employees, journalists and columnists, there are professional organizations and unions. The professional work of journalists may be restricted by the principles of the press.
* Laying off columnists and journalists neither depends on the arbitrary decisions of media bosses, nor of the Prime Minister.
* Nobody, not even the Prime Minister, has the right to arbitrarily dismiss members of the press who are fulfilling their duty or to interfere with the employees' future or their work.
"Do not intervene with the judiciary"
In his speech at the Provincial Chairmen Meeting Erdoğan moreover criticized the oppositional Republican People's Party (CHP): "In certain environments we observe efforts to slow the government down. The opposition obstructs procedures related to legislation and tries to involve the government into this kind of discussions to slow it down".
Referring to the 'Balyoz' coup plans, Erdoğan said, "We applied the law, the independent judiciary is fulfilling its duty. No one is declared guilty unless proved otherwise. This is the rule of law. The judiciary is not only independent but also unbiased and investigates all uncertainties". The Prime Minister furthermore warned the opposition "not to interfere".
In respect to the Tekel workers who have been carrying out a major protest action since December 2009 against the loss of their employees' personal rights, Erdoğan reminded that the workers should sign the 4C contract by 2 March, saying that "the opposition should stop their games with the workers, we know what we are doing". (EÖ/ÇT/VK)
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