Press Council president Oktay Ekşi generally persists in a positive outlook on the government's politics made by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Likewise, he tries to look favorably on the 2009 Progress Report of the European Council, "It is a satisfactory development that the European Union finally realizes laws restricting freedom of speech".
Ekşi's observations had been expressed before by other media-related business organizations, drawing special attention to support from Brussels for the government despite the organizations' warnings prior to the enforcement of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK) on 1 June 2005.
In his latest article Ekşi writes, "Now we had a look at some of our laws and they eventually became aware of the Criminal Code and the Anti-Terror Law... So, was this in favor of the AKP administration's "transparent management"? It came to your mind to inquire the Chamber of Agriculture about article 301 of the Criminal Code, but did it not occur to you to ask the lawyers?..."
Why do you meddle from a distance, Mr. Ekşi?
We agree with some of Mr. Ekşi's general observations regarding freedom of the press and freedom of expression. The government addressing irrelevant groups instead of the media-related organizations or the EU's hasty attitude on the TCK etc.
I just felt uncomfortable about the tone in his article "Us through the eyes of the EU" and felt the need to think about the Press Council's and its president Ekşi's approach on the topic of freedom of the press and freedom of expression. Or to put it in other words, their approach concerning the quite felicitous manner in which they put forward "freedom of communication".
The Council's work on freedom of communication and their interest in this topic slightly resembles the government's sort of approach, it is a problem with enormous dimensions. Mr. Ekşi, the EU criticizes this matter again but there is another problem to it. This is to "meddle" that kind of issues "from a distance".
The Press Council embraces a harsh rhetoric in the published reports to alert the authorities. Taking into account the cautionary effect of the alert, this can also be an influential factor in our opinion. However, it does not seem to be an effective way at all to consider the problems related to freedom of communication only within the limits of the International Day of Freedom of the Press on 3 May or the TCK or within the amendment process of the Anti-Terror Law.
What about the amendments on article 301?
For more than 4years we have not heard a clear statement about the Council's attitude towards the effects of the TCK and TMY. On the website of the Council we recognize the attitude against attacks on journalist, we become we are being lectured on ethics, but we cannot see an approach towards regarding journalists being prosecuted.
The Council criticizes the EU's delayed notice of the TMY now; so why was there nothing but silence until today when newspapers like Günlük and Azadiya Welat were banned for a whole month?
The Constitutional Court took a decision in June this year concerning an application for cancellation of the TMY. The court decreed to adhere to newspaper bans and prison sentences for responsible press people. Where was the Press Council?
Respectively, he Council advocated for the amendment of TCK article 302 instead of its abolishment. The Council might have turned a deaf ear on the concept, but regarding the amendments of article 301, what has actually changed until today?
The ministry allowed to change the term of "Turkishness" used in article 301 to "Turkish Country". If it had been "Turkish Nation" as suggested by the Council, would the picture have been any better indeed? How effective was it to apply for the Ministry's permission?
May we remind you, Mr. Ekşi!
The mysterious attitude of "Everybody knows our attitude anyways" does not take us very far. Leaving aside approved international standards, the attempt to defend the freedom of communication would open up the way to find solutions for article 301. Is that not what article 8 of the TMY means? Is this not the substance of current articles 6 and 7?
This is the result of not leaving the discrepancies to the arbitrariness of the government on behalf of security. The EU finally noticed the TCK and TMY...
We thought we should remind you, Mr. Ekşi... (EÖ/VK)
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