Erdoğan says Hürriyet daily will pay a heavy price for army-gov’t tension story

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Turkey's Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi (L), Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar (left 2) and Deputy Speaker of the Turkish Parliament Ahmet Aydın (R) sit next to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (right 2) speaking during a press conference before his departure for Pakistan, at the Atatürk International Airport's Government Guest House in İstanbul, Turkey on Feb.28.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has heavily criticized the Hürriyet daily for a report on the army-government relationship, saying the daily would pay a heavy price for it.

Speaking at İstanbul Atatürk Airport before departing for a visit to Pakistan, Erdoğan said one of the issues he discussed with Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar during a meeting at the presidential palace on Monday was Hürriyet’s story.

The report, which was published by the daily on Saturday and written by Hürriyet’s Ankara Representative Hande Fırat, was titled “The [military] headquarters is restless,” which meant to say that the General Staff was disturbed about criticism suggesting that it was too close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and found it without merit.

“What is being done here is an act of misbehavior, worthlessness. Neither the administration of the paper nor its boss can come up with such a headline… Whoever tries to pit us [the government and the military] against each other will pay a heavy price,” Erdoğan said.

The president also said the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) was also disturbed about Hürriyet’s story.

“We are like the organs of the same body,” he said.

On Monday, the Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into Hürriyet’s Saturday report.

Erdoğan said he would closely follow the course of the investigation.

Some government figures also criticized the Hürriyet daily for its report, claiming that the daily’s headline was reminiscent of the “Young Officers Are Restless” headline that appeared in the Cumhuriyet daily in May 2003 shortly after the AKP came to power as a single party government. The Cumhuriyet’s news report hinted at a military intervention because military officers were uneasy with the practices of the AKP government.

Speaking in Ankara on Sunday, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım did not mention the name of Hürriyet but said there were efforts to intimidate the government with headlines and that such efforts were the result of a perception management operation.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ also criticized Hürriyet on Sunday for its report. Writing from his Twitter account, Bozdağ said: “It has been years since the era of getting results and intimidating Turkish governments with headlines has been closed. But there are still some whose old habits have resurfaced and who dream of an old Turkey. Turkey is not the old Turkey. Have you still not understood this? “

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