EP head Tajani: No place for Turkey in EU without a radical change

Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament.

Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament (EP), has said that developments concerning press freedom in Turkey are a sign that “Turkey is turning its shoulders to Europe’s core values,” adding, “Without an immediate radical change, there is no place for this Turkey in the European Union.”

Negative developments with respect to press freedom and freedom of expression in Turkey were addressed as well at a conference held on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on Thursday at the European Parliament.

According to a report by Bianet, in his speech at the conference Tajani underscored that Turkey’s situation is attention-grabbing in terms of press freedom and stated that Turkey had dropped 55 places in the Press Freedom Index over the last 10 years.

“The reason the seminar is focusing on Turkey is because Turkey is among the countries where press freedom has deteriorated the most,” Tajani said and added, “In the last 10 years, despite the start of accession negotiations, Turkey has dropped 55 places in the Free Press Index and is now among the worst performers worldwide.”

Reminding that 73 journalists were arrested in Turkey in 2017, Tajani said: “According to a report from Die Zeit, 155 journalists arrested after the failed coup d’ état are still in prison. Amnesty International reports that 180 media outlets were shut down after July. This unacceptable situation makes it clear that Turkey is turning its shoulders to our core values. It would be hypocritical not to acknowledge this fact and not to draw the inevitable conclusions.”

“Turkish authorities still have the possibility to reverse this trend. Our door remains open to Turkish people, who should continue to be given an EU perspective. However, without an immediate radical change, there is no place for this Turkey in our union,” underlined Tajani.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Wednesday. If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 254 journalists and media workers were in jail as of May 3, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 192 were under arrest pending trial while only 62 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 142 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down about 200 media outlets, including Kurdish TVs and papers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

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