European journalists barred from summit with EU in Turkey

A number of European journalists were shut out of a meeting on Thursday between Turkish and EU officials, Turkish media reported.

The journalists were kept out of the third High Level Economic Dialogue in İstanbul, co-chaired by Turkish Minister of Treasury and Finance Berat Albayrak and Vice President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen.

The exclusion of the journalists led to a verbal exchange between Albayrak and Katainen, who objected to the situation.

“I am not fully aware of the details, but press freedom is a fundamental right around the world,” Katainen said, asking Turkish officials to rectify the situation.

In response, Albayrak claimed it was a matter of renewal of press accreditation, which is subject to relevant regulations.

“I guess the credentials of some members of the press were not renewed. Maybe they will be next year, or maybe they won’t,” Albayrak said. “It’s all about the applicable regulations. The issue should be considered from this perspective.”

Albayrak further claimed that same thing happens in Europe and the US as well.

Foreign journalists based in Turkey have recently been having difficulty renewing their press cards.

Journalists and reporters from Süddetusche Zeitung, ZDF, Tagesspiegel and ARD Radio were among those who were unable to cover today’s meeting because they have not yet received their new press cards even though they had lodged their applications on time.

A recent report by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) titled “The Clampdown on Foreign Journalists in Turkey” explains in detail how reporters from other countries face serious obstacles in Turkey that at times suggest a deliberate, systematic and calibrated policy by the government is, in fact, being implemented.

SCF has also compiled 34 cases in which foreign journalists faced detention, jailing, denial of residence permit extensions, cancelation of accreditation, deportation, prohibition on entering Turkey, discrediting and finger-pointing in Turkey in a list in a searchable database format as of December 26, 2018.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). 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 also the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 212 journalists and media workers were in jail as of February 28, 2019, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 135 were under arrest pending trial while only 77 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 168 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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