EU Discusses Gezi Park and Freedom of Expression

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Recent developments in Turkey set the agenda for the second “Speak Up!” conference titled “Freedom of Expression and Media in the Western Balkans and Turkey.” The event was organized by the European Commission in Brussels on June 20, 2013.

The essential requirements of EU membership are the expression and freedom of the press.

Stefan Fule, EU Commissioner

The Turkish government was criticized due to restrictions on freedom and fundamental rights in Turkey, and the relationship between large companies and the media world was also heavily criticized at the conference.

JWF Chairman Mustafa Yesil and Tercan Ali Basturk, the secretary general of the Medialog Platform, attended the conference, along with more than 400 participants from Turkey.

The conference corresponded to a period of strained relations between Turkey and the EU, and despite trying to open a new chapter in negotiations with Turkey, the EU was locked into any decision to come out of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) meeting.

EU Commissioner Stefan Fule said in his opening speech at the conference, “As of now, along with only candidate countries speaking, the EU is not to implement double standards on the freedom of expression and the press and its member countries are to tidy their ‘own homes.'”

Criticizing the way the Gezi Park events were reflected in the Turkish press, Fule noted that the “essential requirements of EU membership are the expression and freedom of the press.”

Despite the criticism, Irish Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd pointed out that even Turkey’s ‘pro-government’ press made criticisms of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and that “the journalists in the Western Balkans need to take as an example their Turkish media counterparts in this regard.”