Turkey’s official English translation of the victory speech Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivered as the country’s presidential run-off election results emerged, fails to include the contentious remarks he made against the opposition.
The official website of the Turkish Presidency on Monday published an English translation that portrayed Erdoğan’s speech as unifying, despite the divisive language evident in the original Turkish and the targeted remarks directed at Selahattin Demirtaş, the jailed former co-chair of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).
Erdoğan opened his speech by saying, “Today, nobody has lost; the entire 85 million have won,” but subsequent remarks took a more unconsentaneous turn, specifically targeting Demirtaş and opposition presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. The English version provided on the official website of the Turkish Presidency went on to translate Erdoğan’s balcony speech using misleadingly unifying expressions.
“Now, I am not an accountant, but it seems there is a mistake in [Kılıçdaroğlu’s] calculations,” Erdoğan said in his victory speech and added, “Now, you could join hands with those in Qandil and make a video together saying ‘let’s go,’ but this nation doesn’t and didn’t buy it.” However, the English translation excluded this part of Erdoğan’s speech in which he was referring to a video that included segments from the presidential challenger’s campaign, but with digitally manipulated scenes that featured the top commander of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Murat Karayılan, and other members of the Kurdish group, falsely implying their association with Kılıçdaroğlu’s campaign.
Citing this fake video during his election campaign, Erdoğan had repeatedly accused Kılıçdaroğlu of having a joint electoral campaign video with executives of the PKK in Qandil, a mountainous refuge for the group on the Iraq-Iran border.
Erdoğan’s remarks regarding Demirtaş, such as “What did [Kılıçdaroğlu] say? ‘If you want Selo [a nickname for Demirtaş] to be freed, you will vote for me’,” and the President’s use of the term “terrorist,” were also omitted from the English text. Furthermore the balcony speech incited the crowd to chant “Death to Selo”, apparently outwardly supporting an idea that the former HDP co-chair should be executed.
Additionally, the English translation neglected to include Erdoğan’s following statement; “Now, oil has been discovered in Gabar [a mountain in Şırnak (Şırnex)]. It was extracted through hard work, not by lying down. Previously, due to the terrorists hand in hand with ‘goodbye Kemal’ [a deprecatory nickname Erdoğan uses for Kılıçhdaroğlu] who poured concrete there, we couldn’t extract oil, but now we have done it.”
“To read the English translation of Erdoğan’s victory speech on the official Turkish presidency website, you would think that his tone was conciliatory. Significant chunks of his vitriol against the opposition and nefarious foreign powers are left out,” tweeted the UK’s Times Turkey correspondent Hannah Lucinda Smith.
“One message for his audience at home, another for the foreigners who, whatever he claims, he needs to keep onside,” she added.
Demirtaş has been in prison since 2016 facing life imprisonment without parole. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) previously ruled that Demirtaş’s imprisonment was “politically motivated” and that he must be released immediately. However, Turkey has refused to comply with the ruling.