The latest four-day Karabakh-Azerbaijan war also got its reflection in the Turkish press, once again prompting the rise of anti-Armenian sentiments in Turkey. Turkey’s leadership through pro-government media sought to express Ankara’s support to Azerbaijan.
In parallel with the escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Turkish president, prime minister and foreign minister, on various occasions, stated that Turkey will continue to support Azerbaijan until the end [of the conflict]. Encouraging Azerbaijan to continue its armed aggression, Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said: “As a nation of 78 million citizens, we will continue to stand by Azerbaijan until the Azerbaijani lands under the occupation, including Nagorno-Karabakh, are freed.”
According to Alin Ozinian, a regional analyst of the Armenian Assembly of America, similar statements have been spread throughout the press. She said that today in Turkey, there are many media outlets, which appear to be the mouthpiece of the government.
“Turkish media are highly politicized. It is very difficult to speak about freedom of the press at the moment. We can say that the opposition press is almost eliminated. Those, which still exist, try to adapt to the situation, or are waiting for the cessation of their activity at any moment,” the Istanbul-born analyst told ArmeniaNow.
The analyst-expert said that, on April 5, three days after the attack at the frontline in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s three main ruling parties – Justice and Development, opposition Republican People, and nationalist National Movement – issued a joint statement, calling for “an end to Armenian aggression in Karabakh.”
“There is a situation in the country that these three parties have never displayed a common position on any issue, but when the question relates to Armenians, they immediately show their common anti-Armenian sentiments. In such a situation, what can we expect from the Turkish press, which is under total control of the government and financed by the various political forces?” said Ozinian.
She said that the Twitter social network is very popular in Turkey, and during those early April days, the #TurkiyeSeninleAzerbaycan (Turkey is with you, Azerbaijan) hashtag had a leading role in Turkey’s trend.
“There were lots of racist and threatening posts [on social media], and it was clear from the language used in them that the writers were Azeris, who wanted to show the Armenians that Turkish brothers were next to them. However, for the part of the Turkish society that dreams of killing Armenians, and wants to completely eliminate them, this was a good opportunity to feed their sick imagination in social media,” said Ozinian.
Referring to the media, which maintain more or less impartiality, Ozinian said that there is no need to evaluate individual newspapers. Instead, she spoke on another global problem. According to her, Selahattin Demirtaş, the leader of the HDP Kurdish Party, touching upon the Karabakh conflict, recently told media that the Turkish government makes a mistake by provoking a war.
“Some of Armenia’s and Diaspora’s press appreciated his statement. However, attention should be paid to his speech as a whole as in it he stated that Armenia and Azerbaijan should solve their problem around a [negotiation] table. For me, this was an ‘unbalanced’ or rather the opposite, a ‘balancing’ phrase. The Kurdish movement itself is a part of the liberation struggle and the representative of such a movement should have remembered the Right of Nations to Self-Determination, or at least should have been aware of the fact that Karabakh, for a long time, has been left out of the [negotiation] table and should be returned to that ‘table’ through the assistance of international forces. He should not have made Karabakh ‘a piece of land’, which Armenia and Azerbaijan are fighting for. If a politician says so, what can we expect from the press?” said the analyst.
Nevertheless, according to Ozinian, along with the Turkish-controlled media, there are also journalists and outlets belonging to a certain group that managed to introduce the situation more equitably, but some of them live and work abroad, or are electronic media, whose audience is very small.
“Even newspapers like these, two of which interviewed me and I talked about aggression and that Turkey supports it, were subjected to hackers attack after publishing the interview. Their websites were blocked for about half a day and they were able to resume their activities after lots of effort,” said the expert.