Erdogan Snubs EU Over Media Raids Criticism

Erdogan Snubs EU Over Media Raids Criticism Erdogan Snubs EU Over Media Raids Criticism

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday defended weekend raids on media outlets close to a US-based Muslim cleric as a necessary response to “dirty operations” by the government’s political enemies, and told a critical European Union to mind its own business.

Sunday’s raids on the Zaman daily and Samanyolu television marked an escalation in Erdogan’s battle with former ally Fethullah Gulen. The two have been in open conflict since a corruption probe targeting Erdogan’s inner circle a year ago, which Erdogan blamed on Gulen, Reuters wrote.

He accuses the cleric of establishing a ‘parallel’ structure in the state through his supporters in the judiciary, police and other institutions, and of wielding influence through the media. Gulen denies any ambition to overthrow Erdogan.

“They cry press freedom, but (the raids) have nothing to do with it,” Erdogan said, speaking at the opening of an extension to an oil refinery near Istanbul.

“We have no concern about what the EU might say, whether the EU accepts us as members or not, we have no such concern. Please keep your wisdom to yourself,” he said.

The European Union, which Turkey is seeking to join, said the media raids ran counter to European values. EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn described them as “not really an invitation to move further forward” with Turkey.

German Chancellor Angel Merkel’s spokesman said it was “in Turkey’s own interest to clear up any possible doubt over its commitment to basic democratic principles” following the raids, in which 24 people including top executives and former police chiefs were detained.

Thousands of police officers and hundreds of judges and prosecutors suspected of loyalty to Gulen have been reassigned since the corruption scandal, which led to the resignation of three government ministers, emerged almost exactly a year ago.

Erdogan signaled the purges could continue, saying the judiciary and some other state institutions, including the state scientific agency Tubitak, must still be “cleansed of traitors”.