On May 18, Azatutyun.am published a video interview with Turkish Armenian journalist Vercihan Ziflioglu, a reporter for Hurriyet Daily News, in which she claimed Giro Manoyan, the spokesman of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), had during an interview said he viewed Istanbul Armenians as “Turks.”
Ziflioglu, who has worked at Hurriyet for five years, also said she does not feel pressured at the newspaper, adding that the biggest fault of the news media in both Turkey and Armenia was the tendency to approach issues with a nationalistic lens. “Inside [the Hurriyet] building, I have no identity, or religion. I have to be objective,” she told Azatutyun. She said she was at liberty to pick the topics she chose to write about, which were generally welcomed by the Hurriyet editor.
The interview generated an almost immediate response from Manoyan, who denied the allegation and in turn accused Ziflioglu and Hurriyet of censoring and altering his interview.
“Ziflioglu lies when she alleges that I said we call Istanbul Armenians Turks… I have never said or thought such a thing,” wrote Manoyan in a blog post—an explanation he also sent to Azatutyun. “On the contrary, it is she who has complained to me about Istanbul Armenians,” he said.
Manoyan cited a message he received from Ziflioglu, dated June 13, 2009, in which she lamented how as a journalist and a writer she faced resistance and difficulties from the Istanbul Armenian community, saying, “the issue is that [they don’t want] someone with a brain to appear amidst them, they always want the children of wealthy families to have a voice.”
Manoyan went on to say that Ziflioglu also lied when she claimed she felt no pressure from her newspaper—unless her interview with him was the exception. The Jan. 27, 2010 interview was altered to an “unrecognizable” point, he said.
According to Hurriyet’s editor, Ziflioglu had a dispute with another editor at the paper, and that the unaltered version of the interview would be published the following day, said Manoyan. The original version, with Manoyan’s unaltered statements, was never published by Hurriyet.
Ziflioglu eventually responded to Manoyan’s repeated requests for an explanation, reassuring him that there was no “ideological motive” behind the whole affair, no “evil thoughts,” that it was due to the “editor’s last minute mistake,” and that if she had been in the office on the day of the publication she would have “prevented the mistake” from happening. After that incident, Manoyan vowed to refuse any future interviews from Ziflioglu, he explained in his post.
“During telephone conversations, she justified her actions. She is not guilty for the alteration of the interview. I believe her, and because I believe her, I say that she is lying when she tells Azatutyun that she has not encountered pressure, especially during the past five years,” said Manoyan. “I honestly don’t know why Ziflioglu decided or was forced to tell these two lies, but I sure can guess. God help her.”