Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed Israel, Germany, the United States and many others while defending Ankara’s press freedom record in a parliamentary group speech on May 13.
“Those who say that there is no press freedom in Turkey should just take a look at the headlines of the daily newspapers,” Erdoğan said in his address to deputies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), arguing that “a significant number of the 40 daily newspapers insult the government systematically.”
Erdoğan continued the government’s criticism of a Freedom House report released on May 1, in which Turkey was relegated from the league of “Partly Free” countries to the league of “Not Free” countries due to its violations of press freedom.
Addressing the Freedom House as “the organization,” in an apparent reference to the the government’s ally-turned-nemesis, the Gülen movement, Erdoğan slammed the counting of jailed journalists in Turkey. “Out of 44 journalists [listed by the report as in Turkish jails], 19 of them were released. Six of them are still on trial. One name is not even registered. Eighteen of them are convicted,” Erdoğan said.
The Turkish prime minister accused Freedom House of being misled by its sources in Turkey, which he claimed as the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
After criticizing the report for listing Israel as the freest country in the Middle East, Erdoğan complained of “double standards,” noting the firing of journalist Helen Thomas in the United States and stressing that Turkish public broadcaster TRT was taken off air by satellite providers in Germany due to its coverage of the Hamburg riots.
“When they do such things in other countries, they call it democracy. When we do it, they call it pressure,” he said.
Repeating his dislike for Twitter and Facebook, Erdoğan argued that “in no democratic country can you see such headlines,” like the ones in Turkey which criticize his government. “In no country can the government be insulted this way. In no country can they like lie this,” he added.
“Those organizations who wants to engage in operations in Turkey should know that they don’t face an intimidated, weak state anymore,” Erdoğan said.