European Federation of Journalists

Welcome to Brussels, Mr Erdoğan

The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was greeted with honour at the Brussels Royal Palace this Monday morning. After the warm welcome of the Belgian King and Queen and the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Mr Erdoğan was pleased to receive accolades from the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the European Council President, Donald Tusk. All of those who welcomed him to Brussels should know that they gratify one of the worst censor of press freedom in Europe.

In only two days, the International and the European Federations of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ) submitted five serious violations of press freedom in Turkey to the online platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists of the Council of Europe. Since the launch of the database six months ago, Turkey is on the top of the list with 29 reported violation (out of a total of 82 alerts for the 47 member countries of the Council of Europe).

To date, 21 journalists remain behind bars in Turkey for doing their job. Our colleague Canan Coşkun, of the daily Cumhuriyet, may soon be put behind bar. Coşkun is facing 23-year jail sentence for allegedly insulting the public authorities. On Sunday, a Turkish police officer pointed a gun to Murat Demir‘s head, an Özgür Gün channel cameraman.

The press freedom violations are increasing as the Turkish legislative elections are coming. The climate of censorship reached such levels that the IFJ President, Jim Boumelha, the EFJ President, Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, Sharan Burrow, and the General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, Bernadette Ségol, sent a letter to Mr Erdoğan, on 25 September.However, the Turkish President remains silent to our demand.

Welcome to Brussels, Mr Erdoğan.

(Picture credit: Emmanuel Dunand / AFP)