Government decides to better inform foreign media about 'Turkey’s press freedom'

Government decides to better inform foreign media about 'Turkey’s press freedom'

Government decides to better inform foreign media about Turkey’s press freedom

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (R) speaks during a Reform Monitoring Group (RİG) meeting. AA Photo

Turkey’s government is taking steps to inform foreign journalists in other countries about the “truth in Turkey,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said, suggesting that recent criticism from international actors about freedom of press in Turkey is driven by misperceptions.

Elaborating on a recent Freedom House report on Turkey, Davutoğlu suggested that there was a misperception on the situation of press freedom in Turkey amid a Reform Monitoring Group (RİG) meeting on the issue on May 9. 

“We agreed to have closer contacts with foreign media outlets in other countries and to invite them to Turkey to enable them to better see the truth of Turkey,” Davutoğlu said at a press conference after the 29th meeting of the RİG, which is overseeing Turkey’s accession process to the EU.

Elaborating on a report by U.S.-based advocacy organization Freedom House, which said Turkey had suffered a “significant decline” in press freedom, Davutoğlu slammed the body for ranking Turkey alongside North Korea in terms of press freedoms.     

“If Turkey is in the same category as North Korea, no one can call it objective ... This is an insult not just to the government but also to the standards Turkey has achieved,” he said.

Davutoğlu said there were “serious differences” between the figures of Freedom House and Turkey’s Justice Ministry.     

“There are only five imprisoned journalists with press cards and they are in prison on different charges, not because they are journalists. However, according to the report, there are 44 imprisoned journalists,” he said.  

EU statements encourage circles exploiting Turkey’s EU process 

The RİG convened with the participation of EU Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, Interior Minister Efkan Ala and Davutoğlu.

In a joint declaration, the ministers complained about statements made by EU countries and EU officials.

The statements about “fundamental rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of press, freedom of assembly and freedom of association, which have been advancing day by day with reforms including democratization packages, encourage circles that have been exploiting  [Turkey’s EU] process,” said the declaration.

The group elected to launch a “National Action Plan” on work to be done in 2014-2016 for EU reforms. Similar action plans were launched in previous years.

The government will continue to work on a draft bill on the protection of personal data as part of the democratization package, along with new legislations against sexual harassment of children, Çavuşoğlu said.

Çavuşoğlu reiterated his call for the opening of accession chapters 23 and 24 on “judiciary and fundamental rights” and “justice, freedom and security,” respectively.