News / Europe

EU Report Slams Curbs Put on Turkish Media

European Parliament
European Parliament
TEXT SIZE - +

The European Union is criticizing Turkey for the rising number of prosecutions against journalists. E.U. concerns have been raised in an annual progress report on the country's bid to join the bloc.  

The annual European Union report on Turkey said while there is increasing open and free debate over sensitive issues such as minority rights, concerns were raised over press freedom.

A member of the European Parliament committee on Turkey, Richard Howitt, addressed the bloc's concerns.

"Without doubts, over some years now we have raised issues about websites being blocked, about writers being in jail.  There are still too many journalists in jail," said Howitt.

According to human-rights groups, the number of jailed journalists has steadily increased in the past few years, reversing an earlier decline.  

Last month, the international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders noted Turkey had slipped in its ranking of press freedom this year to 138 from 123 in 2009, now occupying a spot between Singapore and Ethiopia.

The EU report also voices its concern over the pressure on media organizations.  It cited the billion-dollar tax fine against the country's largest media group, which is also seen as being critical of the government.  But the government has dismissed such concerns, saying there is no policy of intimidation, and the judiciary is independent.  

Last month, CNN Turk, the Turkish version of the popular cable news channel CNN, was fined and received a warning from the state body that monitors media activity. CNN Turk had presented an interview that was deemed to have been personally critical of the prime minister and president. The warning sent shock waves through the media.

The anchor and editor of one of country's main news TV shows, Mehmet Ali Birand, says critical reporting is becoming increasingly difficult.

"Well everyone is going to be much more careful on what they say. No criticism will be the order of the day. We will not be able say anything wrong, which will be interpreted in a negative way from the prime minister."

Birand's program is also under investigation and facing a heavy fine for interviewing family members of soldiers killed by the Kurdistan Workers' Party.  

The EU report also cited the growing number of Internet sites being closed by the courts as another area of concern. There are nearly 6,000 sites that are banned.  

Earlier this month, a two-and-one-half-year ban was lifted on "YouTube," but only days later another ban was enforced. The popular social networking site Facebook also may be banned. In all the cases, a court found the content of certain Web pages seditious or disrespectful.

Media Studies Professor Haluk Sahin, of Istanbul's Bilgi University, says the situation is out of control.

"Turkey finds itself mentioned alongside autocratic countries such as Iran and North Korea and Sudan - amongst the worst censors of the Internet.  But you talk to politicians, like the president, President Gul says, you know, we do not like stuff like this, but nobody seems to move a finger."

The minister for EU affairs, Ergemen Bagis, responded to the report, saying there were no surprises in it.  But with strong opposition to Turkey's bid from country's like Germany and France, political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Bahcesehir University says the accession process has come to virtual halt.

"Turkey's E.U. relation is dying every day.  It has become an open-ended process.  Plus negative remarks by [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy, made this process a genuine disincentive."  

Apathy is seen as a major reason why the latest EU report received little media coverage in Turkey.  In the past, it dominated the headlines.  But some critics say the media may be more reluctant to carry critical news of the government these days.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid