Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey HARDtalk


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Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey

Zeinab Badawi speaks to Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul. Erdogan has been accused of purging Turkey of all opposition forces - is he a danger to democracy?


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With me Zeinab Badawi, from Istanbul, for this special

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I am at the presidential palace and my guest is the man inside, the

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president of Turkey, whom coup plotters tried to remove from power

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exactly one year ago. On the first anniversary of that failed coup, I

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asked him what his response is to critics who say he has used it as a

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pretext to purge all of his opponents. President Recep Tayyip

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Erdogan, welcomed the HARDtalk This time last year there was the failed

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coup. The country came together like never before. What has happened to

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that spirit of unity? But that's the point. Everybody came

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together. People of all ages, from different political persuasions,

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came out saying, we are for democracy, we are against the failed

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coup. But that spirit of unity has now gone and there are many critics

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inside the country and outside who say that you are using the failed

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coup as a pretext to clear all opposition against you. Not just the

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coup plotters. But we saw an unprecedented march

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from Ankara to Istanbul. Its slogan was 'law, rights, justice'. The

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feeling is, or the strong belief, that you are really pursuing anybody

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who criticises you. It's a case of if you're not with me, you're

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against me. But that's the point I was making.

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Millions came out after the failed coup. Now you see people coming out,

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marching in protest, which is why my original question to you was what

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has happened to that spirit of unity?

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I want to ask you specifically about the fact that journalists feel that

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they are not able to speak out openly, that the first thing, and

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secondly we've got to the stage where Turkey locks up more

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journalists than any other country in the world. In the last year with

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scene 160 media outlets close down, we seem to govern 500 journalists or

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media workers sacked from their jobs, you have 150 journalists in

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prison, which accounts for a third of all journalists in prison

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globally. What is it that makes you fear freedom of speech?

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Right, well, as I said, the figure is from Reporters Without Borders

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and there have been many people, European leaders and critics within

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the country, who have said that if the state of affairs. You have given

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your answer. Now we have nearly 200,000 Turkish citizens who are

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either detained, sucked or suspended from their jobs. Politicians,

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academics, journalists, we mentioned, following the failed

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coup. I want to ask you this. While you are waiting to see whether the

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courts find them guilty or not, how are they going to survive if they've

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lost their jobs? They also have dependents, they have elderly

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relatives, children. What happens to these people without jobs?

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But those who were sacked and suspended from their jobs, Mr

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president, how are they expected to survive? Does the Turkish government

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provided with social security payments? Because they have been

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stripped of their livelihoods. What happens to their families if they

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can't work again? You mentioned the fact that you say

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that they are guilty of being coup plotters, therefore they are

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supporters of the US -based cleric living in Pennsylvania, you have

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asked the US for his extradition. You had a meeting with President

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Donald Trump not that long ago. What did he say to you about extraditing

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him, who denies involvement in the coup?

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Relations with the European Union are pretty much at an all-time low

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between Turkey and the EU, in particular Germany. What exactly is

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the problem between you and Chancellor Angela Merkel?

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Do you personally believe that Turkey is better in or out of the

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European Union? What is your personal opinion?

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Mr President, it sounds like you are saying you personally believe Turkey

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would be better out of the EU. Or, not...

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What about the United Kingdom? Because the Foreign Secretary Boris

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Johnson of course has Turkish ancestry and he wrote very rude:

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about you. Has he apologised about that and has that incident in any

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way damaged UK- Turkish ties? No, I was just...! I was just asking

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if he perhaps apologised to you for having a Schleck did he apologise?

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Talking about the United Kingdom of course, post- Brexit, your Prime

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Minister has said in talks that he had with Theresa May, the British

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Prime Minister, in February but after Britain leads the United union

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any bilateral deal, trade deal, between Turkey and the United

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Kingdom would have to be based on the fact that there would have to be

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freedom of movement for Turkish citizens between the UK and Turkey,

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if there is to be a bilateral deal, that is the condition. Is that the

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case? But will you say, as your Prime

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Minister has stated, that it is a condition of any bilateral trade

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agreement between Turkey and the UK post- Brexit that there has to be

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freedom of movement for Turkish citizens?

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So it's an objective? Turkey is a really pivotal nation. In that you

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have the second-biggest army in Nato and when it comes to this

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neighbourhood, the Middle East, it's a very, very tough on anti- plate he

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rolled and given the tensions between Qatar and four other Arab

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states, and one of the conditions that have been put on Tata is that

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the Turkish military base be closed, gives a more military personnel so

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it's simple question really, do you think there is a danger that the

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tensions could escalate into something militaristic and what

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would be your response? Would you be a party to such a conflict if it

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happened? You mentioned Syria and of course

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the talks going on in Geneva to try to see if there is any way forward

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on Syria. Is there a future for President al-Assad for any shape or

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form in the transition or otherwise, is there a future for him?

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I think it's about 600,000. What about...? What about the PKK which

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is of course at organisation as far as the United States, the European

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Union and of course Turkey is concerned. What is the possibility

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of seeing the start to a process that could bring about a resolution?

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And finally and very briefly, the referendum on constitutional changes

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means that if you wish you could stand for presidential elections in

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2019 for two five-year terms which means if you when you could be in

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power until 2029, are you going to be running for president in 2019,

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possibly after that? President Erdogan of Turkey, thank

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you very much indeed for coming on HARDtalk. Thank you.

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With the weekend fast approaching, please don't make this the last

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We'll be fine-tuning the details because we will have some

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But one thing's for sure, it won't be as hot as it's

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In a special edition of the programme, Zeinab Badawi speaks to Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul. It is a year since coup plotters tried to remove him from office in a series of events that were condemned by the international community and Turks from all backgrounds and political persuasions. But now hundreds of thousands of Turks have been on the march protesting at what they say is President Erdogan's purge of all opposition forces - not just the coup plotters. Is President Erdogan a danger to democracy in Turkey?