In a meeting organized by the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) and the political foundation Konrad Adenauer Stifung (KAS), State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç underlined that he and also the government were disturbed by the oppression and censorship imposed on the media. Arınç spoke on the occasion of the "Traditional End of the Year Review Meeting" on 25/26 November as part of the Local Media Training Seminars which were held in 56 provinces and certified almost 7,000 journalists.
The meeting was held in Istanbul and touched on the problems of the local media. Arınç said that "the problems of the media are our problems as well". He continued:
"If there is a problem in our media, there is a problem in our democracy. Yet, Turkey is a state of law with an independent judiciary at the same time. Some journalists are being investigated and prosecuted according to the current law because of the news and comments they made. Unfortunately, some of them went to jail. This situation is bothering me as well as the government".
Arınç: Censorship occurs in banana republics
"Press freedom in Turkey is trying to be exterminated nowadays. It is said that journalists are tried to be silenced by oppressing them. Everybody in politics experienced problems with the media just like us but we are not cross with the papers or television channels. We accept the media as an indispensable element of an open and transparent society. We think that a media with bans and censorship can only exist in oppressive regimes and banana republics. Turkey must be a country where journalists can express their thoughts freely".
TGC President Orhan Erinç informed the audience that the total number of newspapers in Turkey amounts to1,253 of which 1,224 have the status of a local newspaper.
"We are talking about press members in Turkey who are facing about 5,000 investigations, 2,000 prosecutions and prison threats of almost a hundred years", Erinç indicated.
Güreli: Regards to our colleagues in exile
After the speech of Deputy PM Arınç, TGC Secretary General Sibel Güneş lead through the first part of the meeting.
TGC Press Senate President Nail Güreli started his speech by saying, "I send my regards to my colleagues in exile". He invited the state channel TRT to drum up "empathy to understand the feelings of the journalists in exile".
Güreli criticized that the media has "never been that filthy and divided into cliques" as it is nowadays.
Atilla Sertel, President of the Turkish Journalists Federation, pointed out that journalists advocate for the society but at the same time are not able to defend their own rights.
The meeting was attended by almost a hundred people including the Istanbul Governor, Hüseyin Avni Mutlu, the General Director of the Press, Publications and Information, Murat Karakay, and heads of associations and members of steering boards from 61 provinces. (BT/EÖ/VK)