EU says military listing of journalists an issue of free media

The EU is closely following reports over the military denying accreditation to certain newspapers and journalists perceived to be against the armed forces and the issue is likely to figure in the Turkish-EU accession negotiations process, an EU commission

EU says military listing of journalists an issue of free media
Margot Wallström, vice president of the EU commission responsible for institutional relations and communication strategy, said in Ýstanbul after talks in Ankara with senior government members that the respect for freedom of expression was a central expectation the EU had of candidate Turkey.

    "We want Turkey to respect freedom of expression. We don't like actions taken against journalists," she said and underlined the EU's general line that attempts to control the media are "unacceptable."

    The General Staff announced it had launched an inquiry after a weekly published a classified military document that classifying newspapers, televisions and journalists according to their perceived position toward the military and proposing denial of accreditation to those whose views were seen as unfavorable. But the investigation was apparently aimed at finding out who was responsible for the leak to the media, not on the classification of the media organizations itself.

    Journalist groups denounced the listing, which sparked a new debate over attempts aimed at controlling the media and military interfering in civilian life. But in revealing the division it created some defended the military action as an innocent attempt.

    "It is understood that the document reflects an internal assessment. It is not aimed at classifying and accusing people outside the military," said opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal.

    Asked whether the military classification of journalists according to their views toward the armed forces could be considered a matter of free speech, an issue that is highly sensitive for the EU concerning Turkey's membership bid, Wallström said it could be considered a matter of "free media, of free press."

    She also said the issue was not part of her discussions with the government. Wallström arrived in Turkey in Wednesday afternoon for a three-day visit that ended Friday. She met with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, State Minister Abdüllatif Þener and State Minister Ali Babacan, who is also Turkey's chief EU negotiator. Her discussions, which coincided with International Women's Day, focused mainly on the situation of women and central importance of civil society dialogue to overcome an "image problem" that mars a generally successful negotiation process.

    Wallström identified insufficient female representation in politics as a major problem in the area of women rights in Turkey, which ranks next to last in an index of female representation in politics by the OECD, with 4.2 percent. "Actually women's representation in Parliament is less than the level in 1934, when Turkey became one of the first countries to allow voting rights for women," she said. "This is not satisfactory. I have heard several politicians admitting that this is embarrassing when they send delegations abroad and they are all made up of men." She proposed a quota system that would require parties to have a certain number of women as their members.     

    Wallström, responding to questions on a recent ban on the popular Internet site You Tube after it broadcasted a video insulting Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern-day Turkey, again emphasized the EU's general position on the freedom of expression. "People in Europe want the freedom of expression and free speech to be fully respected in Turkey," she said and added: "There will be a lot of attention to any restriction like this one. There have to be really serious breaches to close something down."


Source: Today's Zaman / Fatma Demirelli

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16