Attacks on press freedom pave Turkey's way to autocracy

Escalade on Turkish newspaper Zaman's office must be strongly condemned

On Friday evening police forces raided the office of "Zaman", a critical Turkish newspaper and authorities took control of its operations.

"Such attacks on the freedom of press are clear signs of autocratic politics", comments Ismail Ertug, Member of the European Parliament. "European Union must not tolerate such actions. During the upcoming EU-summit heads of states must clearly speak out against such repression. They may not treat negotiations on the refugee situation like business as usual, while the Erdogan regime is overriding the Turkish constitution. I am stunned by European governments' passive attitude towards such negative developments in Turkey."

According to Ertug, latest police actions fit in the long list of attacks on journalists, free press and independent media during the last months. After Can Dündar's and Erdem Gül's release from prison - two journalists working for critical newspaper Cumhuriyet - President Erdogan already announced his reluctance to accept the Supreme Court's ruling.

"Erdogan is determined to continue his way to an autocratic rule. He swore an oath on the Turkish constitution but keeps on breaking it permanently. Free speech and especially free press are a thorn in Erdogan's side as he is not able to deal with criticism. Nevertheless, free media are one of the pillars of a working democracy. And even as a president you have to face and take criticism", Ertug says.

Ertug also sees an effect on the Turkey-EU relations, as "Turkey is clearly on the road away from Europe. Without freedom of speech and freedom of press there won't be a place for Turkey in the EU. Turkey may be an important partner in the region but that does not allow European governments to issue Erdogan a blank cheque only because he might be useful in the actual refugee situation."

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