Macedonia's grant for FETÖ-linked daily slammed

SKOPJE, Macedonia
Published 31.01.2019 00:07

The Macedonian government was harshly condemned after it announced direct payments to newspapers, including one linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).

The government of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev approved payments for 11 newspapers in 2018, including Zaman Macedonia that is linked to FETÖ.

The decision was announced by the State Minister Robert Popovski during a press briefing Monday. The FETÖ-linked daily has received 14,700 euros.

Turkey's Embassy in Skopje, as well as Macedonian politicians of Turkish descent, have condemned the move.

In a statement, the embassy said that Turkey condemned the "unacceptable" move and called on the Macedonian government to reconsider it in light of the "friendly and brotherly relations between the two countries."

Macedonian State Minister Elvin Hasan, who is of Turkish descent, told Anadolu Agency that the government had decided to support the ailing print media in the country last year. However, he said the government had asked the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) to decide which newspapers get these funds. Hasan said AJM took this decision after consulting with The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and other international organizations.

He said his ministry will notify all government bodies about the criticism of the decision from Turks in the country and that it will do its best to reverse the decision.

Enes İbrahim, a lawmaker and the president of Party for the Movement of Turks, also expressed his disappointment and said that they have already opposed the move.

"We will exert every effort to cancel this payment to FETÖ newspaper," İbrahim said. Beycan İlyas, president of the Turkish Democratic Party, also criticized the decision and said that he will talk to the prime minister and convey his concerns as soon as possible.

"Funding a FETÖ newspaper with taxpayer money is unacceptable," said Beycan, adding that the fight against FETÖ is their red line and was one of the main reasons behind their participation in the coalition government.

Turkish National Unity Movement leader Erdoğan Saraç also condemned the government decision and called it "hypocrisy" against brotherly country Turkey.

Husrev Emin, the leader of the Association of Turkish Civil Society Organizations, urged the government to act in accordance with the promises made to Turkey regarding the fight against terrorism.

"We expect our government to side with Turkey against FETÖ that killed 251 civilians and wounded more than 2,200 in a bloody coup attempt," Emin said.

Emin also recalled that the Macedonian prime minister had called FETÖ a terrorist organization during the Turkish language festivals in 2017. Foreign Affairs Minister Nikola Dimitrov also expressed support for Turkey's fight against terrorism only two weeks ago in Ankara.

FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people dead and injured 2,200.

Ankara also accuses FETÖ of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the government through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

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