Cumhuriyet Foundation Chair Orhan Erinç has issued a statement in response to the invitation and allegations by one of our former managers, Alev Coşkun.
Erinç’s statement is as follows:
On 7 November, Alev Coşkun made an open invitation on the Odatv station addressed to me but essentially to our newspaper. He tells us to repeat the foundation management board elections with nine members as in 2014 and then the government will not appoint a curator. I have a ready answer – withdraw your lawsuit, then, so that the government does not appoint a curator!
But we know that they will not do this because the position of Alev Coşkun and his co-suitors became abundantly clear on the day in February 2016 on which they filed the action with Istanbul Civil Court of First Instance No 1 months before the latest events. They hatched a plan inspired by the Judgment of Solomon. As they know we would never permit the newspaper to pass into the AKP’s hands, they figure we will surrender the newspaper to them for fear that it will be placed in the hands of a curator. They are trying to scare us with curatorship. This is what Alev Coşkun and his associates, placing their hopes in one of the dirtiest investigations in Turkey’s legal history, are pressuring us with. But, there are things that they do not know – or, more to the point, that they do not or cannot understand. Let me explain things to our readers.
Through his announcement on Odatv, Alev Coşkun has erred both in dragging the issues in a civil law case into the media and also in contorting them. A case of this nature most certainly deserves to be heard before the judiciary and not on websites and TV screens and in newspaper columns.
But, we now find ourselves obliged to make a few points regarding the lawsuit because Alev Coşkun is lying. He says there are five reports on this matter and four of them say that the election is tainted with absolute nullity. This is a lie. He is trying to pass off the private legal opinion that they themselves procured as a report and is passing over the legal opinion that we procured from the Civil Law Professorship of Marmara University’s Faculty of Law.
As if this were not enough, he includes a report addressing the previous election and based on which we repeated the election, and which is thus irrelevant.
As if this were not enough, he also resorts to a report that astonishingly was commissioned from an archeologist but was later rejected by a chief inspector appointed by the Directorate General of Foundations. Yes, what in fact counts is the report dated 15.5.2015 that the chief inspector appointed by the Directorate General of Foundations drew up. The following is stated in this extremely detailed report regarding the election that Alev Coşkun says is tainted with absolute nullity, “No breach of the law and foundation articles was identified in the management board elections.”
In a country in which legal certainty prevails, this would have been the end of the matter as far as the Directorate General of Foundations is concerned. Not so. Following the passage of one year, the Directorate General of Foundations persists in submitting a further report.
By means of, and I quote verbatim, “The Presidential General Secretariat’s letter of 1.4.2016 and an anonymous petition annexed to it” the file was reopened once more and, the previous report being rejected, yet another fresh report was compiled. In the letter addressed to the Cumhuriyet Foundation and the Directorate General of Foundations, it is documented that this anonymous petition contains “similar allegations to those set out in Alev Coşkun’s petition.”
Who on earth is embroiling the Palace in the internal affairs of the Cumhuriyet Foundation with anonymous petitions? Could it possibly be those who are disseminating petitions under their own names left, right and centre and dragging discussion over the issue into the media?
Moreover, the Directorate General of Foundations, having now conducted a second inquiry on the basis of anonymous letters and disregarding our right of defence by failing to consult our opinion in the process, called yesterday in the proceedings filed with Civil Court No 1 for “the unjust and unfounded claim to be rejected.” Alev Coşkun is placing his hopes on a report issued two years and four months after the exonerating decision and in an inquiry that this time was reopened under a letter from the Palace and was conducted to the exclusion of Cumhuriyet Foundation.
But this did not suffice for them, either, and they did something for which we can never forgive them. They aided in an investigation in which nine of our colleagues have been remanded in custody. They have thrust a civil law case into a criminal investigation in a manner never before seen. A civil law case cannot be taken up in a criminal investigation. End of matter.
There is one side to Alev Coşkun and his buddies that perhaps warrants praise. They do not give up. They do not give up even if this means drawing on the support of pro-AKP scribes like Cem Küçük, that sworn enemy of Cumhuriyet the Aydınlık newspaper, the Palace and public prosecutors. They are not alone in these efforts and Mustafa Balbay, who has stood by this newspaper for years, has decided to join them as a co-suitor. Even though, when faced with the choice of either politics or journalism, he opted for politics, he wants his place in the foundation management and his newspaper column back. I spoke of the Judgment of Solomon and let me clarify what I mean. Two women making claim to the same child come before King Solomon, who is famed for his justice. King Solomon hears them both out and is not convinced. Then he says that he will cut the baby in half with a sword and thereby split the baby equally among the two women. The fake mother agrees at once. The real mother, on the other hand, seeing the fate awaiting the baby, screams out in agreement and says she is not the mother. King Solomon gives the baby to the real mother who was undoubtedly abandoning her claim over it to save its life. But we will not abandon Cumhuriyet. This is because, whether you cut it with a sword or give it to Alev Coşkun, this will result in the destruction of Cumhuriyet. We will not give this newspaper to Alev Coşkun, the man who squealed to those who have incarcerated our nine colleagues in one of the dirtiest investigations in our legal history. Neither our 93-year heritage nor our consciences permit this. As to our readers, they most certainly will not.
Let us emphatically state that those who are trying to “demolish” Cumhuriyet newspaper by placing their hopes in one of the dirtiest operations in Turkey’s legal history that has seen nine of our colleagues incarcerated, are no less dirty than this operation.