PES supports Turkish partners in defending media freedom
Stanishev talks to local media from outside of a Prison near Istanbul An attempt by an official PES delegation in Turkey to visit two Turkish journalists held in prison ended up in an improvised press conference in front of the gates of Silivri Prison near Istanbul. In heavy rain and strong winds, PES President Sergei Stanishev supported esteemed journalists Can Dundar and Erdem Gul - held behind bars since November last year.
‘Turkey is an important ally for Europe’, said President Sergei Stanishev, ‘we face many common challenges and cooperate on many fronts, in particular in handling the refugee crisis. But we cannot close our eyes for the increased authoritarianism displayed by President Erdogan, who is exercising more and more control over the media and the justice system. Rule of law and freedom of media are key elements of a democratic state, and we cannot allow democracy anywhere to be undermined in this way.’
From outside the prison Mr Stanishev also wrote a letter to Can Dundar and Erdem Gul – respectively Editor in Chief, and Head of the Ankara office of newspaper Cumhuriyet, assuring them that PES will pass on all the information about their case to its member parties and the European Institutions. The letter was delivered to the journalists by one of their lawyers - Yegâne Güley.
Outside the prison supporting the freedom of media were Turkish members of Parliament Umut Oran and Utku Çakırözer, Luis Ayala, Secretary General of the Socialist International, and PES Deputy Secretary General Giacomo Filibeck. They were also joined Zülfü Livaneli - musician/writer, Ali Kırca – journalist, and Nebil Özgentürk – writer.
The press conference happened during a PES visit in Turkey on the occasion of the CHP Congress, where President Sergei Stanishev met with Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who was re-elected as leader of the CHP - the second largest party in Turkey and the biggest opposition party. ‘CHP is a strong partner of the PES’, said President Sergei Stanishev, ‘especially now, Turkey needs solid leaders like Kemal Kilicdaroglu to lead the opposition and make sure democratic standards are being upheld.’