Social media regulation must conform to EU norms: Turkish President

Social media regulation must conform to EU norms: Turkish President

Social media regulation must conform to EU norms: Turkish President

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.