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Turkey’s Erdogan Confronts Threat to His Leadership 29 janvier 2014

Posted by Acturca in Turkey / Turquie.
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The Wall Street Journal Europe (USA)  Wednesday, January 29,  2014, p. 1

By Joe Parkinson

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves to members of his AKP party in Parliament in Istanbul on Tuesday amid expectations that Turkey’s central bank would move to check the country’s tumbling currency Tuesday night. Mr. Erdogan blamed foreign media and business lobby groups for stoking the financial turmoil.

p. 3

Erdogan Hits Media, Lobbies

In a speech to lawmakers on Tuesday, Mr. Erdogan said foreign media organizations, including The Wall Street Journal and British Broadcasting Corporation, as well as some of Turkey’s biggest businesses, were seeking to exploit the country’s difficulties.

“My dear brothers, these organizations have always stolen the national will in this country. They have pocketed the resource and energy of this country,” Mr. Erdogan said. “Is it only BBC? Also The Wall Street Journal. Who are the bosses of these newspapers? Who own these newspapers?” he added.

The BBC didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“Our coverage of Turkey has been without bias, favor or agenda. We will continue to cover Turkey with the same fair and accurate focus that is the hallmark of all of our journalism around the world,” said Gerard Baker, editor in chief of Dow Jones and managing editor of The Wall Street Journal. News Corp owns Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

Both news organizations have in recent weeks published interviews with a reclusive but influential Turkish imam whose supporters have become embroiled in a power struggle with the prime minister after a decadelong political alliance.

The Wall Street Journal published an interview with Fethullah Gulen on Jan. 20. The BBC broadcast an interview on Jan. 27.

Mr. Erdogan has in recent weeks escalated criticism of foreign media coverage of Turkey, reiterating assertions that an “interest- rate lobby”— alleged to include some business organizations, currency traders and foreign media—is seeking to profit by suppressing Turkey’s economic growth and pushing up interest rates. The premier has previously singled out news organizations for criticism, including the BBC, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist magazine and Reuters news agency.

Some of Mr. Erdogan’s critics say he is indulging in conspiracy theories in a bid to depict his government as being under siege from foreign enemies.

“Erdogan has used the strategy of blaming outsiders in the past but this has got much worse in recent times in terms of the amount of targets and the intensity. I think this is set to continue at the very least until the local elections and most likely longer,” said Wolfango Piccoli, managing director of Teneo Intelligence, a political risk consultancy.

The prime minister—who is comfortably leading in opinion polls ahead of local elections in March and presidential elections, in which he is expected to run, in August—is facing one of the greatest threats to his leadership after a sprawling corruption probe snared many of his allies, forcing a cabinet shuffle. The crisis has been aggravated by a darkening economic outlook for emerging markets, sending the lira tumbling almost 20% since the probe became public on Dec. 17.

Turkey’s central-bank governor has signaled policy makers would significantly tighten monetary policy, including an increase in rates, to stop the plunge in the lira. The bank was holding an extraordinary policy meeting Tuesday evening.

Mr. Erdogan said Tuesday he opposed any rate increase, as his government is seeking to spur economic growth. In earlier remarks, Mr. Erdogan focused on the economic advances of the past decade.

“Turkey’s economy has obtained a solid foundation in the last 11 years. It hasn’t been driven away with domestic and outside sabotages…. Capital inflows will keep coming to Turkey,” he said.

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