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As the government works on a bill against ‘provocative’ social media posts, President Gül says such a regulation should remain in a democratic framework

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A protester is seen using her smartphone during a demonstration in Istanbul. The government has decided to take action against the use of social media. AFP photo

A protester is seen using her smartphone during a demonstration in Istanbul. The government has decided to take action against the use of social media. AFP photo

President Abdullah Gül has stressed that any planned regulation on social media should conform with European Union jurisdiction, while also expressing that Turkey's reformist spirit, inspired by its membership bid to the EU, should be kept alive.

Speaking to reporters yesterday at a reception hosted at the presidency, Gül recalled remarks by Interior Minister Muammer Güler, who said a study was being conducted in order to restrict social media in response to the ongoing Gezi Park protests.

Gül noted that he had no certain information on the government’s plans concerning the issue. “For sure, these [regulations] should never lag behind the jurisdiction of European law in developed democracies, which we are aspiring to. Our criteria, our standards on this issue, our democratic legal standards; we are still making a lot of reforms. I’m sure that it [launching of reforms] will be restarted,” Gül was quoted as saying by Anatolia news agency. “I do also believe that it should be restarted.”

“In every field, including the economy, politics and law, we have to keep the reform process alive,” he said, adding that a "reformist approach" should guide actions such as regulating social media.

Name of third bridge

In clearer remarks, Gül warned that Turkey's image, which had been built up over the course of 10 years, could be destroyed in a week, calling on the Gezi Park protesters to end their street demonstrations.

“You make efforts to create this image [of Turkey] over 10 years, but you can destroy it in a week,” Gül said.

“It was important to listen to the objections to [projects in] the park. It was very important to open a dialogue. You have seen that the meetings took place and [the protesters] were listened to. The planned project [in Gezi Park] is suspended. It is clear that the messages were paid attention to,” he added.

The president was also reminded of reactions against the government’s choice for officially naming the third bridge to be built over the Bosphorus after Ottoman sultan “Yavuz Sultan Selim.” Selim is known in English as “Selim the Grim,” and is sultan notorious for the mass slaughter of Alevis.

Declining to comment on whether the bridge’s name could be changed, Gül expressed his concern over the Alevi people’s sensitivity over the issue, adding that any large upcoming project could be named after 13th century Alevi mystic Hacı Bektaş Veli in a move to heal this sensitivity.

Gül was speaking to reporters on the occasion of the launch of the Project of Great Seljuk Heritage. 

June/18/2013

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READER COMMENTS

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mara mcglothin

6/19/2013 9:14:31 PM

PRES GUL You also said you wouldn't sign the alcohol bill if it wasn't constitutional. Well clearly a law that was written because GOD demanded it is NOT within the realm of the existing secular constitution, but you passed it anyway. You have been busy frolicking in the tea with girls young enough to be your second wife, while many have taken to the streets in hopes of a better country, and have been injured because of it.

sonnudagreat

6/18/2013 9:46:39 PM

sorry when did you come back from tea garden ? intoxicated by tea or something else dude? gold medalist in lies and hypocrisy

Brit in Turkey

6/18/2013 9:27:34 PM

Another quote that I've dug out: "I can't understand it. I can't even understand the people who can understand it." - Queen Juliana of the Netherlands. I wonder who it applies to here?

Tekir Feline

6/18/2013 9:19:37 PM

Oh the President is concerned. What happened today you're calling for reason? Police violence, injustice (detainment of protesters, lawyers, medical stuff, etc.) is ongoing three weeks, and today you realize this might spoil the image of Turkey aboard. I confirm it is already. You're not concerned about the dead, the blind and all the people who suffered the polices brutality, but fear for a which might scare foreign investors and the EU, what do you have instead of a heart?

cezer "çapulcu" skonore

6/18/2013 7:12:08 PM

“You make efforts to create this image [of Turkey] over 10 years, but you can destroy it in a week.” It is clear that what they are trying to create is an image not reality, which is the real problem.

Misses Ataturk

6/18/2013 6:30:44 PM

I don't believe a word of this.. and neither should you readers either

François-Marie Voltaire

6/18/2013 6:25:38 PM

Erdogan – a man with a vision and a mission After the crackdown on the military and now on the democratic elements in a next step Erdogan will purify the public service from elements not aligned as well as followed by purification of the justice and media and last but not least a purification of the AKP. Than he will be free to form Turkey as he wishes: a powerful nation between East and West as Byzantium and the Islamic Ottomans before. So his mission is to clear the way for this vision.

jeffrey Jeffrey

6/18/2013 6:05:59 PM

The image of Turkey that the outside world now has is of a heavy handed autocratic regime with an agenda of theocratization. This is precisely the image that secular Turks had. When they tried to tell the world, noone believed them. Erdogan has done more in 3 weeks to destroy the façade that they AKP built over the last 10 years than his enemies have been able to do in the last 7 years.

K M

6/18/2013 5:46:22 PM

President Gul, you have already damaged Turkey's image by allowing this to happen while you sat on your hands and did nothing.

Çılgın Kanarya

6/18/2013 4:51:21 PM

"You have seen that meetings took place & the protesters were listened (to)". GÜLdürme beni Mr President! You only started listening about the park once the public forced your army of gas-happy thugs out of Taksim! Prior to that, Erdoğan had defiantly dismissed the original environmental protest, saying that he had decided on the barracks project & it would be built no matter what. Plus another minister tweeting that the demonstrators needed "more gas"! We are not goldfish Gül, we do remember!
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