Tuesday

21st Aug 2018

Turkey's Twitter ban prompts instant EU criticism

  • Erdogan's Twitter ban is the latest in a series of crackdowns on critics (Photo: Fortum Sverige)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has attracted fresh criticism in EU circles after banning Twitter.

The EU commissioner on digital affairs, Neelie Kroes, tweeted on Thursday (20 March) that the move “is groundless, pointless, cowardly. Turkish people and intl [international] community will see this as censorship. It is.”

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, himself a prolific user of the US micro-blogging site, noted: “Erdogan is not only damaging himself, but his entire nation.”

The EU’s former ambassador to Turkey, Marc Pierini, now an analyst at the Carnegie Europe think tank in Brussels, said: “Turkey is estranging itself from the world.”

The ban entered into force shortly before midnight on Thursday.

It came just a few hours after Erdogan at a party rally in Bursa, near Istanbul, ahead of local elections on 30 March, said: “We now have a court order. We will dig up Twitter and so on - all of them - by the roots… I don't care what the international community says. They will see the Turkish republic's strength.”

His press service later noted: “It is stated that as long as Twitter fails to change its attitude of ignoring court rulings and not doing what is necessary according to the law, technically, there might be no remedy but to block access in order to relieve our citizens.”

The “court rulings” refer to a Twitter account called Haramzadeler, meaning “son of thieves” in Turkish, which has been publishing leaked documents on alleged corruption in Erdogan’s inner circle.

The Haramzadeler leaks are part of wider anti-Erdogan exposures which began late last year, when he fell out with Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic teacher living in the US, over education reforms.

A Turkish official told Reuters “at the moment there is no [similar] decision for other social media like Facebook.”

The Twitter ban comes after Turkey in February passed a new law giving authorities the right to block access to websites if they are seen as having "insulting” content.

It also comes after Erdogan established political control over judicial appointments and fired hundreds of policemen and prosecutors looking into the corruption affair.

Even before the new measures, Turkey already ranked among the lowest of the low in terms of free speech.

It arrested more government-critical journalists than China or Iran last year, while the Twitter ban puts it in the company of China, Cuba, Libya, North Korea, and Pakistan.

Some MEPs have said accession talks, revived last year after a long gap, should once again be put on hold, while some EU officials, in private conversations, have likened Erdogan to Europe’s Communist-era autocrats.

Amid mounting, and at times deadly, clashes between young anti-government protesters and Erdogan’s police, the Twitter ban also risks backfiring inside Turkey, which has more than 12 million Twitter users.

Twitter itself noted that users can get round the ban by posting tweets via SMS-es from their mobile phones.

Meanwhile, the hashtag #TwitterisblockedinTurkey trended to the top of worldwide postings on the site late on Thursday and early on Friday, with the majority of the #TwitterisblockedinTurkey posts coming from inside Turkey despite the restriction.

“Closing barn door after cow fled,” Ken Roth, the head of the New-York-based NGO, Human Rights Watch, said.

EU urges Turkey to change internet law

Turkey's crackdown on the internet raises "serious concerns" and "needs to be revised in line with European standards," the EU commission has said.

Turkey moves to block YouTube

After having denied Turkey's 12 million Twitter users access to the micro-blogging site, Turkish authorities have now moved to block YouTube.

Divisive Erdogan to become Turkish president

Outgoing Turkish prime minister Erdogan will become the country’s first directly elected president after securing a decisive victory in Sunday’s poll.

News in Brief

  1. EU Commission: efforts 'ongoing' over Italian migrant ship
  2. Italy allows boat with migrants to dock
  3. France's Total pulls out of Iran due to US sanctions
  4. Trump accuses EU and China of currency manipulation
  5. Swedish conservatives regret unsuccessful integration policies
  6. Record high measles cases hit Europe
  7. Swedish politician declares war on media
  8. Italy threatens to return migrants to Libya

Opinion

Has the time finally come for 'European champions'?

Since Emmanuel Macron took the French presidency in 2017, the concept of consolidating European industries to create continental 'champions', capable of competing on a global scale, has been revived.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. UK sanctions appeal risks highlighting EU divisions
  2. Wind delays launch of European wind-mapping satellite
  3. Greece 'normal' again after end of crisis, EU says
  4. Putin strikes blow against Russia's isolation by Europe
  5. EU-China cooperation on CO2 storage lost in limbo
  6. Greece exits bailouts, but difficult path ahead
  7. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  8. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us