EU defends diplomats observing Dündar-Gül trial against Turkish reactions

EU defends diplomats observing Dündar-Gül trial against Turkish reactions

EU defends diplomats observing Dündar-Gül trial against Turkish reactions

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An EU spokesperson has defended diplomats who attended the first hearing of the controversial trial of two prominent journalists in Turkey, stressing that such monitoring is part of their regular work in the country.

“EU diplomats regularly attend trials throughout the world as observers, particularly in EU membership candidate countries. This is therefore part of their regular work in Turkey, a country committed to the highest democratic standards, in conformity with the European standards enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and in line with the Copenhagen Criteria and the EU acquis,” Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said in a statement on March 29. 

“In the past, the EU has expressed concerns with regard to specific trials, in particular regarding long pre-trial detention periods affecting, amongst others, journalists,” Kocijancic added.

Diplomats from countries including Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, Italy and Poland attended the trial of daily Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Can Dündar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül on March 25, sharing images from outside the courtroom and messages of support via Twitter. 

The show of support was angrily condemned by senior Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Turkish Foreign Ministry. 

“The European Union closely follows developments relating to judicial reform, freedom of expression, and the media in Turkey, in view of Turkey’s position as a candidate country and strategic partner. Freedom of expression and the press, the ability to express critical opinions and the freedom to inform are essential components of the democratic debate. Free, diverse and independent media constitute one of the cornerstones of a democratic society by facilitating the free flow of information and ideas, and by ensuring transparency and accountability,” Kocijancic said. 

“It is against this backdrop that representatives of the EU Delegation and Member States’ diplomats were present last Friday in Istanbul to observe the trial of Can Dündar and Erdem Gül. The EU believes it is important to continue to address these important matters, as a key element of a continued constructive dialogue between the EU and Turkey,” she added.