The present and future of press freedom in Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community and the pressures faced by journalists were discussed at an event organized by the Press and Information Office (PIO) in Nicosia on Tuesday afternoon. The event, which was broadcast and online, was attended by the Turkish Cypriot journalists, Rashih Resat and Ali Kismir, the correspondent of KYPE in Istanbul, Anna Andreou and the journalist and researcher Evangelos Aretaios.
In her greeting, the Director of GTP Aliki Stylianou, referred to the role of the free press in the modern era, in which new media and technology leave their mark. Afterwards, Mrs. Stylianou made a brief reference to the roots of Turkish Cypriot and Turkish journalism.
Ms. Stylianou mentioned that researchers can find a rich archival material of the press in the GTP archive. He also referred to new EU initiatives to secure pluralism and freedom of expression, such as the proposal to combat hate speech in the context of human rights protection, and added that the IPO will continue its new cycle of events in the next period.
The image broadcast by Turkish journalism today was analyzed by the Turkish journalist Rasih Resat. In his view, there are three categories of media in Turkey today, the pro-government media, the opposition media, and the media that attempt to serve the principles of journalism and freedom of information. The latter are facing pressure, he said and gave the example of exerting pressure through economic-advertising tools.
Mr. Resat referred to the effort made by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) governments since the 2000s to control the major media. He spoke about the case of the Star Group, which was one of the first journalistic groups to come under government control. It was also mentioned in the case of the Dogan Group.
Mr. Resat then referred to the fine line that separates reporting from commentary and opinion. The Turkish journalist in the context of this analysis referred to the case of the self-exiled Turkish journalist Can Dudar. He also briefly put the current reality in Turkish journalism under his microscope, stressing that the totalitarian practices applied in Turkey are gradually being transferred to the occupied territories. "What happened in the 2010s in Turkey will happen much faster on the island. And that's because we are a small country,” concluded Mr. Resat.
In his own intervention, the Turkish journalist and president of the “Basın-Sen” guild, Ali Kismir, analyzed the pressures and attacks Turkish Cypriot journalists received from the period of the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus until the present day. According to Mr. Kismir, after the Turkish invasion of the occupied territories, a "new system" was formed, with authoritarian specifications, within the framework of which the T/c journalists. The specific "system" it hurts journalists who are in favor of the reunification of Cyprus, he noted.
Providing examples from the historical evolution of modern TV journalism, Mr. Kismir focused on the "elections" that were held in the occupied territories for the emergence of the new Turkish leader, characteristically adding that "we experienced the hardest moments". According to him, before the "elections", opposition Turkish journalists who support the bizonal, bicommunal federation faced pressure, to the extent that "kidnappings" took place. and intimidation operations in the streets of the occupied.
Mr. Kismir also referred to his personal experience, recalling that he was recently not accepted in Turkey and was at the center of a "trial" on the occasion of an opinion article of his. Finally, he concluded his intervention by asking for more support from journalists in the free areas in the fight to defend pluralism.
KYPE correspondent in Istanbul, Anna Andreou, said in her own intervention that "we cannot analyze Turkey if we judge the social and political culture of Turkey in terms of the West". With an emphasis on what has taken place in Turkey over the last decades, Mrs. Andreou said that based on the report prepared by “Reporters Without Borders”, Turkey ranks 149th in the ranking of countries for freedom of the press (out of 180 countries). In Turkey, 26 journalists are in prison because of their journalistic activities, he said.
Ms. Andreou informed about the legal framework that currently governs Turkish journalism, with particular reference to the 40-point regulation for social media and the reactions caused by the new regulation inside Turkey and in Europe. The KYPE correspondent also referred to the night of the failed coup in Turkey (15/07/2016), as a landmark date for the intensification of the authoritarian measures of the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan against the Turkish media. He also spoke about what followed the failed coup as well as the developments of the Gezi Affair period. He also referred to the new Directorate of Communication of the Turkish Presidency.
Concluding, Mrs. Andreou sent the message that as journalists "we have learned over time to overcome obstacles, to slip between the laws and finally from here to give objective information, keeping all balances. Because for journalism in difficult environments, maintaining balance is required, calmness is required, adherence to the task of providing correct information is required, and this is why I always say that journalists are the best listeners.
At the GTP event, journalist and researcher Evangelos Aretaios also presented his views on modern Turkish journalism, who focused on the pressures faced by Turkish journalists. “Reports on domestic violence or various forms of abuse, especially when made by women journalists, can trigger hate campaigns against them on social media,” he said. All this, he added, "combined with what Anna Andreou mentioned in detail, have created a particularly negative climate for journalists in Turkey". "Journalists from the Gülen Network and journalists in media identified with the Kurdish movement, such as the Mesopotamia agency," said Mr. Aretaios.
Then, Mr. Aretaios referred to the case of foreign journalists in Turkey, adding that “foreign journalists along with the representatives of foreign non-governmental organizations are easily characterized as agents and practically it is difficult to be accepted by the wider population.” Knowing the Turkish language and social codes certainly facilitates the way foreign journalists work, but the attitude of the general public remains cautious towards them.
Continuing, Mr. Aretaios noted that journalists, columnists working in Turkish opposition media are fully aware that there are certain topics that are classified as taboo topics. “Few and very rarely touch, for example, issues concerning the Erdogan family and the role played by its members, matters referring to speculations about corruption of high-ranking government officials, matters concerning the PKK, matters concerning the Greeks,” he added. the Greek journalist.
Concluding his intervention, Mr. Aretaios summarized the challenges faced by representatives of the Cypriot media in Turkey and underlined the peculiarities of the modern journalistic landscape in this country. < /p>