World Bulletin / News Desk
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday defended his Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) refusal to provide accreditation to some newspapers to cover the party's fourth ordinary congress over the weekend, saying he is “not obliged to invite” all newspapers to his party's convention.
The AK Party's media and public relations branch did not issue press badges for a number of newspapers, all of which are fierce critics of the party. The ban covered Cumhuriyet, Aydınlık, Sözcü, Evrensel, Birgün and Yeniçağ.
Addressing his deputies on Tuesday, Erdoğan took aim at the main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) turning down the AK Party's invitation to the congress due to the refusal to accredit the papers.
“Their excuse is that some newspapers were not invited to the congress. I did not [invite them]. Am I obliged to invite [them]? You will direct every kind of insult at us every day and we will still invite you? They say no ban can be imposed on the media. We are not doing this. But if that media disrespects us, our response will be teaching them their place,” Erdoğan said.
The party's decision not to accredit some newspapers was among the most-debated aspects of the congress. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu expressed his outrage towards the AK Party over the ban, saying the act was "a black stain" on Turkish democratic history.
“There was a practice of banning the media. I cannot digest this. How can a prime minister impose a ban on the media?” he asked reporters while attending an event in the town of Manavgat.
The AK Party on Sunday held its fourth ordinary party congress in Ankara. The congress attracted 40,000 people, including hundreds of reporters, delegates and visitors. Erdoğan delivered a major speech that celebrated a decade of electoral success for his ruling party while touting rising power Turkey's regional stature and strong record of economic growth.