AKP’s mayoral candidate offers salary to journalists as election promise

Turkish ruling AKP’s Eskişehir mayoral candidate Nebi Hatipoğlu has offered minimum wage salary to journalists “reporting in favor of the municipality” should he assume the office. Eskişehir Journalists Association deemed Hatipoğlu’s offer “bribery.”

The ruling AKP deputy and Eskişehir mayoral candidate Nebi Hatipoğlu

Şenay Bilik Yıldırım / Gazete Duvar

Turkish ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Eskişehir mayoral candidate Nebi Hatipoğlu on Jan. 9 offered minimum wage salary to journalists “reporting in favor of the municipality.”

In a meeting with journalists on the occasion of Jan. 10th Working Journalists' Day, Hatipoğlu said he also had promises for journalists as “low income is the biggest problem of Eskişehir local press.”

The 49-year old candidate said they would pay minimum wage to the journalists “reporting in favor of the municipality and Eskişehir.”

“It is very important for the press to have economic freedom in order to be free and to put its will into action. Despite all kinds of conditions, our press in Eskişehir does not report false news,” he added.

Eskişehir Journalists Association Chair Yılmaz Karaca criticized the promise in a written statement. 

“It is normal for a mayoral candidate to want to support press organizations, but a promise like bribing employees is not right. The fact that Hatipoğlu, who owned a newspaper for a while, made this promise on Jan. 10, Working Journalists' Day, hurt journalists. We consider this promise of Hatipoğlu as a bribe and condemn it,” Karaca said.

After the criticisms, Hatipoğlu said he would not seek “any political or other discrimination” in his promise. 

“The management approach that does not benefit anyone in Eskişehir is coming to an end. I will not leave alone any professional group that makes up this city, including the press workers. Those who think of no one but themselves, who have not benefited a single person in this life, let them be hurt,” Hatipoğlu said, referring to Yılmaz Karaca.

In the 2019 local elections, main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) Yılmaz Büyükerşen assumed the office by receiving 52.30 percent of the votes, followed by the AKP's candidate Burhan Sakallı who stayed at 45.14 percent.

Eskişehir deputy Nebi Hatipoğlu on Nov. 7 joined the ruling AKP following his resignation from the opposition İYİ (Good) Party, only six months after the elections.

(English version by Alperen Şen)