Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s administration is bristling at criticism from European and U.S. politicians and journalists, with sweeping slams of their credibility or their right to judge Turkey’s crackdown on anti-government protests.
But, on Monday, Egemen Bağiş, Turkey’s minister of EU affairs, took aim at one publication in particular: The Economist.
“The Economist did it again,” Bağiş said in a statement posted to his website. “A photoshop portrait, lots of hype, and a long list of demands … I wonder the last time this paper used that many modal verbs ‘must’ and ‘should’ in an article while trying to dictate Turkey and its democratically elected government.”
Bağiş appears to be responding to the venerable British magazine’s lead story in the June 8 print edition, entitled “Democrat or sultan?” In it, Erdoğan’s face is superimposed on the portrait of Sultan Selim III of the Ottoman Empire, clad in a regal red robe, a gas mask clutched in his golden-gloved hand.
“And if not plain pathetic and ignorant, the Economist’s abuse of the Sultan portrait is a thinly veiled and outrageous threat,” he said. “Sultan Selim was tragically assassinated. With that crude photo-job on Erdoğan, is the Economist implying something?”
He bashed the global business weekly, questioning its “editorial wisdom” after it called the 2011 general election for the opposition Republican People’s Party, which the ruling Justice and Development Party in fact beat handily.
“The Economist certainly has problems with its editorial wisdom,” he said, “and needs to work harder to increase its circulation in Turkey.”