President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has urged Turkish academics to lend support to his government’s efforts to fight what he called an “international smear campaign” by foreign media and academic circles against Turkey amid an economic turbulence and the fight against “multiple terror organizations.”
“There is so much inaccurate information against us in Western media. We need to work to correct them. We need the support of our academics in what I call a national campaign against all of it,” Erdoğan said in a speech he made to mark the beginning of the new academic year in Ankara on Oct. 3.
“They can back this struggle by explaining the truth about our country on their own merits,” said the president.
Erdoğan also said democracy is not possible with the media, arguing that even the most powerful countries in today’s world are being ruled by the media as his latest trips to the United States and Germany have shown.
“I have seen that these giant countries are being governed by the media and not by their leaders. Because whenever I spoke with them they were saying, ‘Our media says this, our media writes that.’ And I told them, ‘Just forget the media, tell me what your people say,’” he said.
International media have long been criticizing the Turkish government for pressure imposed on the media and journalists in Turkey, which is the world’s worst jailor of journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
In the past, the Turkish media had run Turkey claiming itself as the fourth power, but what the government cares about is the people itself, the president said.
“What is important for us is how our people judge us. Democracy is empowered by the people. There is democracy if there are people. Democracy is not possible with the media,” he said.
“And it is not possible for a politician to pursue sound politics if he or she is afraid of the media,” said Erdoğan.