Turkish pro-government media outlets may change sides to support AKP renegades - columnist

While the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) plans to put more pressure to undermine former deputy prime ,inister Ali Babacan’s efforts to establish a new party, some pro-government media outlets might unexpectedly change sides and support Babacan, Serkut Bozkurt, a columnist for the Artı Gerçek news site, said on Friday, citing an unnamed source.

Babacan, who is widely credited for the AKP’s economic success in its early years, has stepped up efforts to establish a new liberal party. 

Babacan has not publicly announced that he will establish a new party, but when he resigned from the AKP last month he said he would seek to begin a separate political movement with allies who share a new vision for Turkey.

Bozkurt said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had demanded a complete media blackout of news on Babacan’s party from pro-government outlets. 

But Babacan’s side has kepts its calm in the face of the expected pressure on the media, and the media outlets close to Erdoğan could suddenly shift sides, Bozkurt said. 

A source familiar with the matter told Bozkurt that Mehmet Şimşek, another former deputy prime minister in charge of the economy who was sidelined by Erdoğan, could play a role in this shift.

“Mehmet Şimşek, who acts together with Ali Babacan, is now a consultant to a bank in London owned by Doğuş Group, which is headed by Ferit Şahenk,” the source said. “When Şimşek becomes a member of Babacan’s part, and he will, the changes in the media will become clear. At that moment, it will not be surprising for Doğuş Group’s NTV and STAR TV to start criticising Erdoğan.”

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