Antonio Tajani appeals for 'fair and free' elections in Turkey
Turkish media has 'key role to play' in upcoming elections says European Parliament President.
Antonio Tajani | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual
The Italian MEP also said that the media in Turkey had a “key role to play” in ensuring the Turkish public can “make an informed decision” in the 24 June national election.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan last month called snap parliamentary and presidential elections for 24 June, more than a year early.
The elections come as Ankara comes under strong criticism over its human rights record.
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Tajani said, “I want the Turkish people to be able to have access to information so that they can make an informed choice in these elections and that is where the media is so important".
“It is important that the media in Turkey provides all necessary information for voters. It is also necessary for the Turkish media to explain exactly who they are working for, whether it is for the Turkish regime or others.”
He added, “The onus is also on the authorities in Turkey to ensure the elections will be conducted in a free and fair manner.”
The MEP was speaking in Parliament at a media event on 'The situation of the media and freedom of expression in Turkey' with European Commissioner for European neighbourhood policy and enlargement, Johannes Hahn.
According to the Commission, relations between the EU and Turkey have deteriorated. In October 2016 Parliament called for the immediate release of journalists being held.
“It is important that the media in Turkey provides all necessary information for voters. It is also necessary for the Turkish media to explain exactly who they are working for, whether it is for the Turkish regime or others” Antonio Tajani
Amnesty International says that among the more than 100 journalists and media workers were being held in pre-trial detention in Turkey at the end of the year, three were from the secular opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet.
Journalists from media outlets closed by so-called State Of Emergency decrees, following an abortive military coup in 2016, continue to face prosecution, conviction and imprisonment, says Amnesty.
Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have criticised Ankara for its deteriorating civil rights record and have voiced concerns that the NATO member has been sliding further into authoritarianism under Erdogan.
Since the 2016 coup, Turkey has carried out a sweeping crackdown on alleged supporters of Fethullah Gulen, detaining 160,000 people and dismissing nearly the same number of civil servants. Ankara blames the US-based cleric for the coup attempt.
Tajani, speaking at an event in Brussels last week, marking World Press Freedom Day, added, “We cannot be credible in our call for media freedom in Turkey and around the world, if we cannot guarantee the protection of journalists in Europe.”
This was a reference to murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who was commemorated at the event.
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