Istanbul, May 27 () - Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has continued his salvoes against the New York Times over the U.S. daily’s recent editorial criticizing him.
Erdoğan joined Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in another grand airport opening on May 26, this time in the predominantly Kurdish-populated southeastern Anatolian province of Hakkari, issuing strong criticisms against the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
The two men were together in Hakkari’s Yüksekova district for the opening of the Selahattin Eyyubi Airport, only a few days after the opening of the Ordu-Giresun Airport, despite the opposition parties’ strong criticisms as well as warnings by the OSCE’s election monitoring team that Erdoğan is overstepping his powers.
“The New York Times said there is pressure in Erdoğan’s Turkey. What kind of pressure is that? On what you are basing this? Know your place. Since when did you start to malign us from America?” said Erdoğan. “They are used to ruling the other side of the world from 10,000-15,000 kilometers’ distance. But there is no such Turkey. There is no more old Turkey. There is a new Turkey.”
Along with opposition parties, Erdoğan frequently also slams independent media with the Doğan Media Group and daily Hürriyet coming at the top of his list of targets, causing international reaction against the president.
“Mr. Erdoğan has a long history of intimidating and co-opting the Turkish media, but new alarms were set off this week when criminal complaints were filed against editors of Hürriyet and its website over a headline Mr. Erdoğan had objected to” an editorial of the New York Times said May 22.
“While the country has faced tough political campaigns before, this one is especially vicious and the mood seems unusually dark and fearful. Mr. Erdoğan appears increasingly hostile to truth-telling. The United States and Turkey’s other NATO allies should be urging him to turn away from this destructive path” the editorial said.
On May 25, Erdoğan duly slammed the New York Times editorial as “shameless” calling on the U.S. daily to “know its place.” “Who are you? Can you write such a thing [writing a critical editorial] against the U.S. administration? If you do, [the administration] would immediately do what is necessary” Erdoğan said during a panel organized by a think tank in Istanbul on May 25.
Criticism over campaign
With Erdoğan’s intensifying public rallies during which he has indirectly called on people to vote for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), opposition parties have queued at the door of the Supreme Election Board (YSK) to demand a halt to presidential rallies. But the election watchdog rejected all appeals on the basis that it has no authority to oversee presidential activities.
Opposition parties stressed that Erdoğan’s speeches have led to an unfair electoral competition. Davutoğlu is also continuing with a carefully planned campaign in which his speeches generally start after or before Erdoğan’s, in order to ensure that Turkish TV networks broadcast both of them, according to the opposition.
In April, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) highlighted concerns over Erdoğan’s “active role in the campaign” recommending the deployment of a team in order to observe the fairness of the election.