Norwegian PM slams Turkey over free press

Norwegian PM slams Turkey over free press

ANKARA
Norwegian PM slams Turkey over free press

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg walk in front of the prime mninister’s office in Ankara in an offical welcoming ceremony. Stoltenberg criticized yesterday the situation of press freedom in Turkey. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has praised Turkey’s democratic progress but questioned respect for free speech and media freedoms, joining mounting international misgivings over Ankara’s record.

Despite major advancements in human rights and women’s rights in recent years, Turkey faces “difficulties regarding freedom of expression, as many other countries have pointed out. The subject of whether journalists are working freely is also an issue,” Stoltenberg said during talks with Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek yesterday.

Çiçek responded the majority of jailed journalists were charged for terror-related offenses and not for their reporting activities and slammed European countries for failing to give Turkey adequate support against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“There is a misevaluation regarding journalists. They are not in prison for doing their job. They are in prison for being members of a terrorist organization, forging documents and other such illegal activities. Evaluating them as journalists would be a serious mistake,” he said.

Referring to a court case in Denmark against Roj TV, the alleged mouthpiece of the PKK, Çiçek said the station was already making efforts to find itself a new base in another Scandinavian country in case it is banned in Denmark. “We hope our friends in Norway will show greater sensitivity to our fight against terror,” he said.

“Unfortunately, there isn’t sufficient international cooperation in the fight against terror. The terrorist organization receives a considerable amount of support from Europe,” Çiçek added.

In further remarks, Stoltenberg praised Turkey’s economic growth, stressing that bilateral cooperation could be expanded especially in the energy, shipbuilding and seafood sectors.

The government’s democratic credentials were also on the agenda of Stoltenberg’s meeting with main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, sources of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) said. Voicing his concerns, Kılıçdaroğlu stressed lengthy pre-trial detentions had become a punishment in themselves and the special-authority courts had degenerated into a government tool to bully and silence critics. “Those issues are very important and should be carefully followed,” Stoltenberg was quoted as saying in response.

Later in the day, the Norwegian leader also held talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Their meeting was still under way when Hürriyet Daily News went to print.

Turkey, Norway, diplomacy, Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister