Turkey comms sector unites to 'fiercely' condemn coup attempt and vows to 'maintain prudent language'

Three comms trade bodies in Turkey have issued a joint statement "fiercely" condemning the recent attempted coup in the country, and promising to "maintain a prudent communication language" in its aftermath.

Unrest: A tank moves into position as people attempt to stop it, in Ankara, Turkey on 16 July (AP Photo)
Unrest: A tank moves into position as people attempt to stop it, in Ankara, Turkey on 16 July (AP Photo)

It follows the failed military coup at the weekend, which resulted in at least 232 deaths and injuries to at least 1,400 people.

The tough reaction from Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has included the dismissal of thousands of military personnel, police and judges, and talk of reinstating the death penalty. Last night (Wednesday), Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency in the country.

Recent days have also seen a crackdown on press freedom, with Amnesty International reporting that authorities have "arbitrarily" blocked access to more than 20 news websites following the coup attempt. There are reports that the government has revoked licences of 25 media houses and cancelled press cards of 34 journalists.

The new statement has been issued by the presidents of the Communication Consultancies Association of Turkey, the Corporate Communications Professionals Association, and the Public Relations Association of Turkey.

It says: "As professionals who believe in the principles of democracy, the rule of law, and the fundamental rights and freedoms of people, and who value human life, we condemn fiercely the unlawful actions and most importantly the attempts on people’s lives.

"It is our greatest wish for Turkey to regain a safe and peaceful atmosphere and environment in the shortest time possible," it goes on to say, adding its "condolences" to those who lost relatives or friends on 15 July and after, and wishing "a speedy recovery to those injured".

The statement continues: "In order for the economic and social development in Turkey to be sustained, it is essential for public and private sectors, the academia, civil society organisations, and we as individuals to maintain a sensible and rational stance."

The statement says the three associations "as representatives of the communications sector, are aware of the huge responsibility on our shoulders for supporting uninterrupted continuity of professional and personal lives in safety.

"We would like to inform the public that we will co-operate to maintain a prudent communication language by taking ownership of our democracy now more than ever, and assuming responsibility to deliver on our commitments."

It comes as PR agencies weigh up their options for Turkey – while the country is counted among promising emerging markets, there has been consistent crackdown on press freedom under Erdogan’s government, and growing instability in the country, which borders Iraq and Syria.

Edelman Europe boss Michael Stewart told PRWeek in March that the agency was exiting its wholly owned business in the country and moving to an "affiliate plus" model, with Edelman maintaining a minority stake in the Turkish business.

Stewart said at the time: "The geopolitical context in that part of that world has gotten unbelievably complicated on multiple levels.

"It is at the forefront of the migration crisis out of Syria, it has a semi-hot conflict with Russia, you’ve got a head of the country who’s having some pretty draconian moves on freedom of the press. We’ve decided it’s best for us at this point in time to have an affiliate relationship there."

Meanwhile, a number of agencies view Turkey as important for their growth plans in the region.

Guillaume Herbette, global CEO at MSLGroup, had recently expressed an interest in the agency entering Turkey. He told PRWeek this week: "MSLGroup continues to monitor the situation in Turkey closely. Long-term, Turkey is a very important country for us and the potential for business is there. We continue to look at the market with great interest for the future development of our business."

Speaking to PRWeek earlier this year as part of the Global Agency Business Report coverage, UK CEO and EMEA managing director Scott Wilson said Turkey along with Russia was a market of interest.

In April, Burson-Marsteller announced it had acquired a majority stake in Effect PR, an Istanbul-headquartered firm with 80 staff.

Additional reporting by Sam Burne James

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