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Does the EU Still Have Leverage on Questions of Freedom of Expression in Turkey? 12 septembre 2012

Posted by Acturca in Turkey / Turquie, Turkey-EU / Turquie-UE.
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GTE Commentary (Istituto Affari Internazionali) No. 4, 12 September 2012, 2 p

by Michael Leigh *

Does the EU still have leverage on questions of freedom of expression in Turkey? The problem of freedom of expression is real enough. The European Commission’s annual reports, the US State Department’s Human Rights Reports on Turkey as well as testimony from the country itself leave no doubt as to the increasing  infringements of freedom of the press, publication more generally, and the internet. These sources make clear that the law itself does not sufficiently guarantee freedom of expression and note particular concerns about the high number of cases brought against journalists, the political pressure put on the media, the legal uncertainties, and the bans on websites. The Turkish Publishers’ Association (TPA) has reported that serious restrictions on freedom of expression have continued despite legal reforms related to the country’s EU candidacy.

The deteriorating human rights situation in Turkey is sometimes attributed to the slowdown in Turkey’s EU accession process. This view, however, implies that the reforms of recent years were externally imposed and that the Turkish leadership itself sees no interest in an expansion of fundamental freedoms as such. It also implies that Turkish leaders have become oblivious to international opinion, especially as EU accession prospects have dimmed.

* Senior Advisor, German Marshall Fund, Brussels

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