IN RESPONSE TO THE OSCE REPRESENTATIVE ON FREEDOM OF THE MEDIA

Tacan İLDEM 24.11.2011
PERMANENT MISSION OF TURKEY TO THE OSCE

STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR TACAN ILDEM
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF TURKEY
(891st Permanent Council Meeting, 24 November 2011)

Mr. Chairperson,

I would like to join the previous speakers in warmly welcoming the Representative on Freedom of the Media, Ms Dunja Mijatovic, back to the Permanent Council and thank her for the comprehensive regular report that she shared with us today.

Turkey highly appreciates the quality work done by the Representative and supports her in fulfillment of her mandate. I would like to assure Ms Mijatovic and the participating States that the report along with comments and recommendations contained therein will be carefully and thoroughly examined by the Turkish authorities.

I would also like to express our appreciation for the proper reflection in the report of the frank and constructive dialogue between the Office of the Representative and the Turkish national authority, namely the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK).

We are of the opinion that constructive dialogue between the Representative and the participating States would serve to the benefit of the OSCE as a whole. Since no participating State is immune from instances relating to the exercise of freedom of expression and opinion that may be of legitimate concern for all of us, as reflected in the report, each participating State should be willing to make best use of experience and expertise that may be offered by the Representative.

Turkey is a good example of how such a dialogue could translate into concrete and positive developments. On 26th of May, we provided the Permanent Council with explanation on new Internet regulations planned to be introduced. In the meantime, our authorities have engaged in a constructive and in-depth dialogue in particular relating to the filtering of internet services, which was an issue of concern for some participating States. The revised Principles and Procedures on Safer Internet Service which enjoyed valuable expertise of the Representative as well as contributions from the civil society became effective on 22 November establishing purely voluntary filtering service leaving it up to Internet users whether they want to use the service or not. I am pleased to note that voluntary aspect of the service is properly reflected in the report of the Representative. Turkey is determined to pursue the constructive dialogue with the Representative and to strengthen it including during her upcoming visit to Turkey.

Imprisonment sentences and ongoing lawsuits against journalists, as has been referred to in some of the statements, are based on crimes unrelated to their professional functions as journalists. As for the long pre-trial detentions I would like to remind my distinguished colleagues that this is an issue of a lively and democratic debate both in civil society and at the parliament. Turkey is determined to address this issue including through revisiting its criminal procedures.

Mr. Chairperson,

I have listened with interest the intervention made by the distinguished Ambassador of Poland on behalf of the EU in response to the presentation of the Representative on Freedom of the Media. Since an unfortunate explicit linkage is established in the EU statement between the situation of media freedom in Turkey and the draft Ministerial decision on safety of journalists, I feel obliged to make some remarks:

Turkey has no `top priority` in the run up to Vilnius Ministerial. Neither a status of primus inter pares is attributed to any of the drafts that we are discussing. It is with this understanding that my delegation has been participating in the drafting process actively and constructively, also by contributing to the work of the Chairmanship. We value on an equal footing all the draft decisions which were tabled by the Chairmanship as well as by other participating States. Draft decision on safety of journalists is not an exception. For us, to further the work of OSCE especially after the achievements of Astana is very important. What we are against is the hierarchical approaches and selective conclusions by some of the participating States. I won’t fail to repeat what I said in Warsaw at the HDIM that EU continues to remain silent to the shortcomings in some of its Member States relating to freedom of expression and the media, as have been reflected in the Representative’s reports, while being generously vocal on its criticisms about others. This gives us every reason to question not only the credibility of such statements, but the contribution that they can possibly make in much needed constructive engagement that is conducive to the desired deliverables especially at a time when we are so close to Vilnius Ministerial. We still maintain the hope that decisions will belong to 56 and final texts will be free from slogans and self-serving elements.

In concluding, we wish every success to Representative Mijatovic in her valuable endeavors across the OSCE area.

Thank you.