EU accuses Erdogan of violating press freedoms

What makes this statement by the European Union on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s crackdown on opposition media important is that it comes on the eve of meetings between the EU and Turkey to discuss Ankara's bid to join the pan-European organization.

A judge friendly to Erdoğan ordered the arrests of dozens of journalists who reported on the massive corruption scandal last year involving hundreds of police and judicial officials.  Erdoğan made the scandal go away by reassigning most of the accused, with only a few of the officials being prosecuted, and has accused an American imam of being behind the revelations and inciting a coup.

Businessweek:

Yesterday’s arrests, which included the editor-in-chief of the country’s top-selling daily Zaman and the head of Samanyolu Broadcast Group, came days ahead of the first anniversary of a probe into alleged government corruption which posed the biggest challenge to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 11-year rule. Both media outlets have been linked to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Erdogan of backing the graft investigation in an alleged “coup attempt.”

Turkey’s corruption crisis began Dec. 17 last year when scores of people with links to the government were detained on charges including gold-smuggling, bribery and bid-rigging. The government has since dismissed or reassigned thousands of police officers and judicial officials for pursuing the probe.

“We will bring down this network of treason and hold them accountable no matter who is with or behind them,” Erdogan said on Dec. 12.

The detention of journalists “goes against the European values and standards Turkey aspires to be part of,” the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and the commissioner for EU enlargement, Johannes Hahn, said in a statement. They warned that Turkey’s progress toward EU membership, which has stalled in recent years, “depends on the full respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights.”

The lira fell 1.1 percent to 2.3244 against dollar at 1.37 p.m. in Istanbul, its weakest since Jan. 24, in the biggest depreciation among emerging markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Yesterday’s detentions were ordered by an Istanbul judge, Islam Cicek, who also arranged for the release of the main suspects in last year’s police probe, Sozcu newspaper reported on its website, citing the arrest warrant. Cicek was criticized by opposition lawmakers earlier this year for praising then-prime minister Erdogan on his Facebook page.

The police operation “looks like another attempt to crack down on critical media,” Emma Sinclair-Webb, a Turkey researcher for Human Rights Watch, said in an e-mailed statement. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said in an e-mailed statement yesterday that “the heavy-handed actions this morning smack of political vengeance.”

Erdoğan's transformation of Turkey into an Islamist dictatorship is nearly complete.  His gradual assimilation of Turkish institutions, beginning with the legal system and moving through every facet of Turkish culture, is a template for other would-be Islamist dictators who wish to duplicate his success in western Europe.

Turkey, at the turn of the millenia, was a reasonably secular, reasonably free country who eyed membership in the EU.  The army, traditional guardian of Turkey's secularness, maintained an aloofness from politics.  But the secularists in Turkey had a falling out in 2003, and Erdoğan took advantage of their disorganization to come to power with less than 40% of the vote.

Through the years, Erdoğan has gradually transformed Turkey into an Islamist state by purging the army, making the Koran the basis of all laws, and cracking down on the press, as he did last week.  He has successfully cowed the opposition to where they are now a permanent minority, thus solidifying his hold over the country.

Turkey's future lies with the Sunni Arab states and not with Europe.  The EU should recognize that and refuse to allow Turkey to join the organization.

What makes this statement by the European Union on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s crackdown on opposition media important is that it comes on the eve of meetings between the EU and Turkey to discuss Ankara's bid to join the pan-European organization.

A judge friendly to Erdoğan ordered the arrests of dozens of journalists who reported on the massive corruption scandal last year involving hundreds of police and judicial officials.  Erdoğan made the scandal go away by reassigning most of the accused, with only a few of the officials being prosecuted, and has accused an American imam of being behind the revelations and inciting a coup.

Businessweek:

Yesterday’s arrests, which included the editor-in-chief of the country’s top-selling daily Zaman and the head of Samanyolu Broadcast Group, came days ahead of the first anniversary of a probe into alleged government corruption which posed the biggest challenge to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 11-year rule. Both media outlets have been linked to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Erdogan of backing the graft investigation in an alleged “coup attempt.”

Turkey’s corruption crisis began Dec. 17 last year when scores of people with links to the government were detained on charges including gold-smuggling, bribery and bid-rigging. The government has since dismissed or reassigned thousands of police officers and judicial officials for pursuing the probe.

“We will bring down this network of treason and hold them accountable no matter who is with or behind them,” Erdogan said on Dec. 12.

The detention of journalists “goes against the European values and standards Turkey aspires to be part of,” the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and the commissioner for EU enlargement, Johannes Hahn, said in a statement. They warned that Turkey’s progress toward EU membership, which has stalled in recent years, “depends on the full respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights.”

The lira fell 1.1 percent to 2.3244 against dollar at 1.37 p.m. in Istanbul, its weakest since Jan. 24, in the biggest depreciation among emerging markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Yesterday’s detentions were ordered by an Istanbul judge, Islam Cicek, who also arranged for the release of the main suspects in last year’s police probe, Sozcu newspaper reported on its website, citing the arrest warrant. Cicek was criticized by opposition lawmakers earlier this year for praising then-prime minister Erdogan on his Facebook page.

The police operation “looks like another attempt to crack down on critical media,” Emma Sinclair-Webb, a Turkey researcher for Human Rights Watch, said in an e-mailed statement. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said in an e-mailed statement yesterday that “the heavy-handed actions this morning smack of political vengeance.”

Erdoğan's transformation of Turkey into an Islamist dictatorship is nearly complete.  His gradual assimilation of Turkish institutions, beginning with the legal system and moving through every facet of Turkish culture, is a template for other would-be Islamist dictators who wish to duplicate his success in western Europe.

Turkey, at the turn of the millenia, was a reasonably secular, reasonably free country who eyed membership in the EU.  The army, traditional guardian of Turkey's secularness, maintained an aloofness from politics.  But the secularists in Turkey had a falling out in 2003, and Erdoğan took advantage of their disorganization to come to power with less than 40% of the vote.

Through the years, Erdoğan has gradually transformed Turkey into an Islamist state by purging the army, making the Koran the basis of all laws, and cracking down on the press, as he did last week.  He has successfully cowed the opposition to where they are now a permanent minority, thus solidifying his hold over the country.

Turkey's future lies with the Sunni Arab states and not with Europe.  The EU should recognize that and refuse to allow Turkey to join the organization.