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EUROPE > Turkish media's 'poor coverage' of Gezi protests slammed at EU Conference

BRUSSELS – Hürriyet Daily News

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European Commissioner responsible for enlargement, Stefan Füle, speaks at a conference. AA photo

European Commissioner responsible for enlargement, Stefan Füle, speaks at a conference. AA photo

Barçın Yinanç Barçın Yinanç barcin.yinanc@hurriyet.com.tr

The traditional Turkish media’s poor coverage of police crackdowns on mass demonstrations in Turkey, in contrast to social media’s pivotal role, has repeatedly come up for discussion during a conference organized by the European Commission on freedom of expression and media in the Western Balkans and Turkey.
 
The deafening silence of the mainstream media in the first days of the recent protests in Istanbul and in other places and the worrying use of police actions against the media only serve to underline how much this conference is needed, Stefan Füle.

Strong democracy is a prerequisite for membership, and freedom of expression is one of the main pillars of democracy, according to Füle, who added that the state of the media provided an accurate index for the state of freedom of expression.

He stressed there was a direct link between freedom of expression and the accession process. While he briefly mentioned self-censorship in Turkey, he also praised recent judicial amendments regulating the conditions according to which journalists can face imprisonment.

Turkish news channels have received more criticism for not providing coverage of demonstrations in Istanbul and instead choosing to broadcast documentaries about penguins, this time from Fergus O’Dowd, the Irish minister of state.

“It is clear that by choosing not to report, broadcasters end up being sidelined and citizens go elsewhere,” he said, addressing a conference on freedom of expression and the media in the Western Balkans and Turkey.

As a result of the poor coverage in the early days of the demonstrations, social media has played a pivotal role in the organization of organizers and provided information to the wider world, said O’Dowd.

The demonstrations show that Turkey is in transition and that the space for civil society is widening, which is largely due to the reforms of EU accession process, he said. Even pro-government journalists were able to expresses their criticism about the response to the demonstrations, according to the minister from Ireland, which currently holds the presidency of the 27 nation bloc.

Meanwhile, Member of the European Parliament Jery Buzek also talked about Turkey in his opening speech, making particular reference to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s description of social media as a “troublemaker.”

“When TV and radio do not report police brutality against demonstrations, you know something is wrong,” Buzek said. “We should be worried about this.”
 
Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, recalled that 60 journalists were currently in prison in Turkey. While recalling the argument of the Turkish government that these were not in prison because of their journalistic activities, she expressed amazement at the fact that a great majority of them were facing terrorism charges. She also drew attention to the fact that 30,000 websites were blocked in Turkey.

June/20/2013

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READER COMMENTS

Notice on comments

mara mcglothin

6/21/2013 4:22:02 PM

RICHARD There is no way to explain to the likes of NAGEYEC that we are not haters, but concerned people who only want Turkey to join the civilised World in a true democratic country. It has NOTHING to do with Islam. Why would I hate Muslims but be married to one for 30 years! How ridiculous. President? Not going to happen.

Richard Wyatt

6/20/2013 10:45:04 PM

@ conduz, what makes you think I wish harm on Turkey? I wish for Turkey to be a successful secular country, just as Atatürk strived for.

Eric Martin

6/20/2013 10:39:29 PM

This European fool is doing his job trying drum up negative impressions of Turkey. They don't Turkiye in the EU. They are just trying concoct excuses. The German public don't want Turkey in so they have use these demonstrations as the reason. Our PM needs to move on. Quit groveling and acting like a jilted lover. Forget EU membership. Who cares about them. Focus on our own Economy and new markets.

Murat

6/20/2013 9:07:56 PM

These shameful so-called journalists reminds us of the Istanbul press, 1919-1922. Gutless, unprincipled and for sale.

Tekir Feline

6/20/2013 8:59:15 PM

Well the poor media coverage already showed consequences, there is a list < in the web. So hopefully the coverage of the ongoing struggle for freedom, democracy and individual rights in this country might find its way into the news.

Richard Wyatt

6/20/2013 7:25:21 PM

Anton, thank you for your response. The article I read here this morning put greater emphasis on the Mr O'Dowd's criticism. Usually, whenever there's any kind of foreign criticism there's an immediate backlash from certain quarters, that's why I made my comment.

Nageyec Conduz

6/20/2013 6:21:40 PM

I hope all of you guys who pretend to care about Turkey such as mara, wyatt and others yet, by the lyrics of their comments wishing harm for her, stay around for the coming elections to see if your animus towards Islam can make any difference to the re-election of AKP, again lead by Erdogan, but this time as president.

anton supertramp

6/20/2013 5:53:01 PM

@richard, i remember your fair critisicim about many subjects but i have never seeen any anti irish vitriol or slanders here, in fact ireland is one of afew country in europe that has friendly relations with turkey,

Recep Ozel

6/20/2013 4:24:04 PM

I don't know if HDN will publish this, but ulusal tv has a fundraising page to buy 6 more 3g video cameras (in addition to their existing 4) to enable them to broadcast live feeds from across Turkey... If you search for 'ulusal kanal 3g kamera' on google it will come up...

Çılgın Kanarya

6/20/2013 3:33:47 PM

RİCHARD WYATT, don't worry, the Irish are universally popular, so I'm not expecting any anti-Irish vitriol :) Erdoğan & his cohorts only seem to obsess about the reactions of the Americans, English, French & Germans, as they know full well that their flock views these countries as being most hostile to Islam, & so they play on this ignorance. Actually, the vast majority of Turks don't even realise that the Republic of Ireland is completely independent of the UK, unlike Scotland, Wales & N.I.
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