BY MARUF BUZCUGIL
It is very important for economic journalists to have news-gathering relationships with important institutions and to keep this relationship respectful and sustainable over many years. The Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) is one of these institutions for me. As someone who has published hundreds of news, analyses, articles, comments, and interviews about official statistics for news agencies, radio, television, newspapers, and magazines in my 37-year business journalism career, I would like to share the story of my last TurkStat interview published in daily DUNYA last week. Prof. Sait Erdal Dincer, the last president of TurkStat, the ninth president of the institution in the last 20 years, was dismissed from his post with a presidential decree published midnight on the weekend, a method we have gotten used to.
Prof. Dincer has always made his first statements, his first and last interviews, and his evaluations, to daily DUNYA. Dincer’s first contact with daily DUNYA was thanks to my old friend Alaattin Aktas, the tireless analyst of TurkStat data, who has been scrutinizing official data for decades, always calling a spade a spade.
Dincer stated that he wanted to have a comprehensive interview with Alaattin Aktas, whose merit is known by him and his team, and made important statements in that interview. Aktas, who would have had to conduct the interview remotely due to Covid-19 health measures, suggested that I do this interview on his behalf. I accepted with pleasure.
TurkStat President Dincer, whom I see as the legacy of the institution, vice president Nurettin Kaya, Price Statistics Department Head Cem Bas, and Labor Force, Household, Income, and Living Conditions Surveys Department Head Levent Ahi welcomed me that day. Nurettin Kaya has been working at the institution for 25 years, Cem Bas for 21 years, and Levent Ahi for 16 years. I asked the questions on my mind with the awareness of my responsibility to ask questions on behalf of our readers and the public. I received candid, informative responses from the president and his team. The headline “We measure inflation for Turkey’s 84 million, not the cost of living,” with TurkStat emphasizing the importance of data and their relationship with our paper.
It has been voiced in Ankara corridors for a while that the TurkStat president’s approach, which attaches importance to information, has created discomfort in the ruling circles. However, we will have the opportunity to test whether Dincer’s relationship with Daily Dunya, and his willingness to share information with us. We wish success to the new president and want to be in an informative relationship with him, as well.
We had the opportunity to have a short meeting with Dincer yesterday. Indicating that he handed over the chair the new president, Dincer recommended that we continue to monitor TurkStat. Dincer said in our short conversation that he received his salary from Marmara University during his TurkStat presidency and he will return to his duty at the university.