Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu shakes hands with Omani Foreign Minister Yousef bin Alawi bin Abdullah at a joint press conference May 2. AA Photo
Journalists in Turkey are freer than journalists living in the countries listed as “free” in a recent report released by a U.S.-based watchdog, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu
has claimed, encouraging Turkish journalists “to react” against the Freedom House report.
“Turkey does not deserve to be [listed] in this category,” Davutoğlu said May 2, speaking at a joint press conference following talks with Omani Foreign Minister Yousef bin Alawi bin Abdullah.
Turkey has been relegated from the league of “Partly Free” countries to the league of “Not Free” countries, according to the latest report from the Freedom House that was released on May 1.
“No one can put Turkey in that category. All kind of opinions are openly voiced in Turkey. In this sense, the press freedom in Turkey is freer than some countries called ‘partly free’ and it based on a more rooted ground of liberty than countries called ‘free,’” he said. “I’m calling on the press and the intellectuals to display a stance against this report. We expect our journalists too to reject this report.”
Davutoğlu argued that foreign journalists reporting on May Day particularly focused on clashes near Taksim Square and misleadingly reported there was a ban on demonstrations.
Turkish police fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber pellets to stop May Day protesters from defying Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
and reaching Istanbul’s central Taksim Square.
Citing security fears, authorities shut parts of the city’s public transport system, erected steel barricades and deployed thousands of riot police to block access to Taksim, a traditional union rallying point and the focus of weeks of anti-government protests last summer.
“A perception operation is being conducted in Turkey. There were similar incidents in Hamburg [on May Day] too,” Davutoğlu said. The “perception operation” term is increasingly being used by government officials and pro-government media to describe an alleged smear campaign underway against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of Turkey.
Turkey has routinely been cited as one of the world’s biggest jailer of journalists.