Saturday

17th Apr 2021

EU says Turkish media crackdown will harm relations

  • Turkey is ranked 154 in the world in press freedom rankings by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders. (Photo: Carmen Alonso Suarez)

The EU and US have warned Turkey that its latest crackdown on free press will harm relations.

The EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, and its enlargement commissioner, Johannes Hahn, said on Sunday (14 December) the “operation goes against the European values and standards Turkey aspires to be part of”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

With Turkey angling to open new chapters in the enlargement talks, they added that “any further step towards accession … depends on the full respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights”.

They noted the crackdown comes just “a few days” after they visited Ankara and promised that EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels on Monday, will discuss how to react.

For his part, Lithuania’s foreign minister, Linas Linkevicius, tweeted on Monday that “Turkey has to respect freedom of media”.

A US state department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said: “As Turkey’s friend and ally, we urge the Turkish authorities to ensure their actions do not violate ... core values and Turkey's own democratic foundations”.

Arrests

The criticism came after Turkish police arrested some 30 journalists and police chiefs said to be linked to the opposition “Gulenist” movement.

They include Ekrem Dumanli, the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s biggest-selling daily, Today’s Zaman, and Hidayet Karaca, the head of the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group.

The charges include state subversion, forgery, and slander.

They come shortly after parliament passed a new law allowing police to detain people on grounds of “reasonable suspicion”.

They also come ahead of the one-year anniversary of The 17 December Scandal - when Erdogan says officials linked to the US-exiled Islamic preacher, Fetullah Gulen, leaked information about corruption in the president's family and inner circle, a claim the Gulenist movement denies.

“We have gone into their [Gulen-linked activists’] lairs, and we will go into them again … Whoever is beside them and behind them, we will bring down this network and bring it to account”, Erdogan said in a speech on Friday.

Sunday’s arrest also prompted complaints from leading NGOs, such as the New York-based Human Rights Watch and the European Federation of Journalists in Brussels.

They are part of a long-term campaign by Erdogan to silence his critics.

Turkey is in 154th place in the world in press freedom rankings by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.

It already has dozens of reporters in jail on charges varying from “denigrating the Turkish nation” to “offending the religious values shared by part of the population”.

Silvan Mucadele, a newspaper publisher, faces life in prison for “attacking the indivisibility of the state and the integrity of the nation”.

It also ranks 64th out of 175 countries in the corruption perception index compiled by the Brussels-based Transparency International.

Ankara still hosts the EU’s largest foreign delegation.

But few on either side believe the enlargement talks will ever lead to Turkey joining the EU.

Opinion

Turkey needs its women, Mr Erdogan

Erdogan and the EU should do more for Turkish women if they care about the country's future. But instead, they are digging holes

Opinion

EU-Turkey ties will survive war of words

The EU's former ambassador to Turkey says the recent dispute over media arrests is a blip in relations governed by deep economic and security concerns.

News in Brief

  1. EU postpones decision on labelling gas 'sustainable'
  2. MEPs call for mass surveillance ban in EU public spaces
  3. Greek and Turkish ministers trade jibes in Ankara
  4. Biden repeats opposition to Russia-Germany pipeline
  5. Navalny in danger, letter warns EU foreign ministers
  6. Lithuania keen to use Denmark's AstraZeneca vaccines
  7. Gas plants largest source of power-sector emissions
  8. Study: Higher risk of blood clots from Covid than vaccines

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. US rejects Slovenia-linked plan to break up Bosnia
  2. Ukraine urges Borrell to visit Russia front line
  3. Could US sanctions hit Russia vaccine sales to EU?
  4. Polish court pushes out critical ombudsman
  5. Political crises in Romania and Bulgaria amid third wave
  6. Von der Leyen's summer plans undisclosed, after Ukraine snub
  7. Over a million EU citizens back farm-animal cage ban
  8. Three options for West on Putin's Ukraine build-up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us