An invitation from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to investigate the detention of 26 journalists in Turkey has been accepted by the Council of Europe.
“The issue of media freedom was one of the main points in my discussion with Prime Minister Erdogan,” Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland confirmed. “The Prime Minister has said that he wants to interact with this organisation which has expertise that can be used. I welcome his initiative.
“I will send a special representative as soon as possible. This envoy will report back to me so that we can make an assessment of the situation. This is a constructive approach and a move forward in the discussion about media freedom in Turkey.”
The Council of Europe envoy is expected to examine the circumstances and reasons for the arrest of journalists in connection with an alleged plot to overthrow the Turkish government. It is alleged that those arrested are linked to the ‘Ergenekon’ ultra-nationalist clandestine group.
During his address to the Parliamentary Assembly earlier today, Prime Minister Erdogan said that the journalists had been detained for encouraging and supporting a coup d’etat and not for their “journalist activities.”
Erdogan also told the assembly that a sound national model, economic progress and sensitive diplomacy are the platform for Turkey’s key role in Europe.
He said Turkey showed that “Islam, secularism and democracy can exist hand in hand.”
The Prime Minister revealed that his country would not take sides in regional conflicts and worked for “peace, stability and security” in the Middle East and North Africa to ensure that that there are no more “Afghanistans or Iraqs.”
Erdogan also pointed to the surging Turkish economy as evidence of the nation’s growing influence.
Turkey’s economy is now the best-performing in Europe, recording growth levels of some 8.9 per cent last year. Turkey now boasts the sixth strongest economy in Europe and the 17th largest in the world, allowing the country to meet two of the four Maastricht criteria.
The Prime Minister said economic growth and good relations with regional partners made the relationship with the European Union of mutual benefit.
“Turkey needs Europe and Europe needs Turkey,” he added.