POLITICS > Ankara tries to defy EU media criticism


Weary of continual EU criticism over Turkey’s media freedom record, EU Minister Bağış says he as well as the PM are uncomfortable of questions

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Bağış is seen sending an email to Stefan Füle and Carl Bildt regarding EU criticism of Turkey on press freedom.

Bağış is seen sending an email to Stefan Füle and Carl Bildt regarding EU criticism of Turkey on press freedom.

Murat Yetkin Murat Yetkin murat.yetkin@hdn.com.tr

There are sightseeing boat cruises along the canals of the Danish capital, but Turkish European Union Minister Egemen Bağış cannot enjoy the beauties of the Nordic city.
He is sending messages using his mobile phone to European politicians like EU’s Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt to avoid strong criticism in a statement to follow the EU Commission’s summit Dec. 9. The matter of concern is further strengthening of the wording of the EU statement on the state of freedoms in Turkey, particularly the extended detention periods, journalists in jail and freedom of press and expression issues.
Bağış gets his share of criticism because of his words last week when he was quoted as saying he did not believe there was a single journalist put in jail because of what he or she had written or spoken.
Yesterday he himself was sharing some of the criticism, acknowledging the need for a judicial reform. “I am sick and tired of being in a position to answer those criticisms everywhere I go,” he said. “I know that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan is also uncomfortable because of this situation. I want the case to be closed myself. What should be done is to speed up trial periods through judicial reform.”
Concerning the journalists in jail, Bağış shares his observation: “It is interesting that when Tuncay Özkan was arrested, not many people reacted. But when Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener were taken, the whole public opinion reacted. It seems the Turkish people are viewing the cases in isolation.”
When asked about the cases of publisher Ragıp Zarakolu and Professor Büşra Ersanlı, who were arrested within the scope of the outlawed Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) probes, or journalist Mustafa Balbay who has spent more than a thousand days behind bars without a court ruling, Bağış’s answer remains the same. “We have to take steps to deliver timely justice; that will solve a lot of problems. The Justice Ministry is working on it.”
Cyprus is another and actually a bigger problem in Turkey’s relations with the EU. Ankara has already announced it will not take the Greek Cypriot government as a counterpart when Nicosia assumes the EU presidency term in the second half of 2012.
Bağış links the problems in an interesting way. “We are ready to negotiate it with the EU Commission as the 23rd and 24th chapter open, which are among the 14 chapters that remain blocked by Greek Cypriots.”
The EU summit Dec. 9 may not be the No. 1 item on Turkish people’s agenda nowadays. The rigging probe in the football leagues, which has infected politics, is leaving its first rank to the recovery of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan as of yesterday, when the emir of Qatar Sheikh al-Thani, who was expecting Erdoğan in his country later this week, visited him at home. The sheikh took the opportunity of an innovation conference in Istanbul, like U.S. Vice President Joe Biden did Dec. 3.
Despite the fact it is not the No. 1 issue on people’s agenda, the EU summit in Brussels is important for the Turkish government and is being watched closely. Bağış’s efforts and the messages he delivers show how seriously it is taken by Ankara.


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Notice on comments

The Prisoner

12/12/2011 9:58:37 AM

God you only have to see how few comments get thru the HDN censors to understand how bad it is getting here! The HDN is running scared! Even the their best journo (Bekdil) is rationed to once a week now!

mara mcglothin

12/8/2011 4:41:38 PM

Truly Pathetic sums it up. You are spot on ATHESSALONIAN


12/8/2011 2:49:55 PM

Ankara may defy the Turkish intelectuals and proponents of human rights and freedoms but will never be able to silence the mouths, pens and keyboards of the world outside its borders. This is the 21st century after all. Regards

jd pomerantz

12/8/2011 2:34:33 PM

Wanna stop feeling "uncomfortable because of this situation?" Consider behaving better. Since dissident students and journalists continue to rot in jail w/o even being charged, I assume you not to be uncomfortable enough.


12/8/2011 1:06:17 PM

M Johnson, nice comparison. I think they do have bail but not for "terror" or political cases. This is why EU is important for Tr. Dogan ileri may not give a damn but some of us would rather have EU complaining than people in jail without conviction.

Jeffrey Gibbs

12/8/2011 11:55:02 AM

Doğan, it's not the Europeans that have to suffer the growing dictatorship of the Turkish government. It's you. It's unbelievable really that they whine about how uncomfortable they are 'feeling' when thousands of people have been wrongly jailed.

de Wit Hans A.

12/8/2011 8:37:16 AM

Pretty pathetic to be tired of hearing critics over people detained for years without any ruling!! What about those 50 university students 'lost' in jail? Personally I think the EU is tired of Eugemen Bağis his undiplomatic talk incl. that email.

Michael Johnson

12/8/2011 7:37:28 AM

Getting tired of answering those questions? How do you think those journalists in jail feel, imprisoned without any formal charges? Don't you have bail in this country or what?

runner runnerup

12/8/2011 7:35:06 AM

It´s the same blablabla from the Turkish Government about this issue of Freedom of Press. The kind of stubborness that´s not helping the jailed journalists and writers nor the accession with the EU.


12/8/2011 2:59:13 AM

It'll be a relief when Cyprus assumes the Presidency of the EU. We won't have to listen to pronouncements from this fool for the whole Cypriot term. He sends emails to Carl Bildt and Stefan Fule, 2 of Turkey's few friends in the EU. Utterly appalling
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