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Opinion

Opinion: Another attempt to silence media in Turkey

While Turkey’s democracy is under attack, it also strives to jump-start negotiations with the European Union. Europe shouldn’t shy away from dealing with the real problem, writes DW’s Seda Serdar.

Two most prominent Turkish journalists, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül have been arrested on Thursday. The decision came as a shock not only for Turkish media, but it created great reaction internationally. They are being charged with political and military espionage, aiding the Fethullah terrorist organization and publishing confidential information. In reality, they are being punished for doing their jobs. This is another round in the game of intimidation.

Even though the complaint by President Erdogan was made this summer and he had threatened that people who published the story of the trucks that carried weapons allegedly to Turkmens in Syria, the court has decided to act now.

While the world is busy with the Turkish-Russian crisis which actually is an international struggle for power in Syria and in the region, inside Turkey, the crackdown on media should not go unnoticed and be swept under the rug after a few critical statements.

A painful process in the name of democracy

Cumhuriyet newspaper and its journalists have long been the target of oppression like all other journalists who have worked on shedding light on stories that the government has been trying to hide. They have been one of the strongest voices within the country. Turkey is going through a painful process in the name of democracy and journalists are at frontlines of this fight. The right to information has deteriorated in the past decade, and the recent court order is simply another proof of that.

Even though it is extremely troubling that journalists are being targeted for reporting, what is at least as troubling as that is the fact that the judiciary system is not there to protect them. It is also extremely worrisome that some are convinced that shedding light on criminal activity is betraying the state. The only goal of all these trials that have been going on for years is to silence the media and to drown any voice that is willing to question the decision being taken by the leaders of Turkey.

In need of solidarity

This weekend, at the European Union-Turkey Summit Prime Minister Davutoglu, will be meeting with European leaders. While the main focal point of this Summit will be to look into finding a sustainable solution to the refugee crises, Turkey has high hopes in re-launching its negotiation process with the EU. However, EU now has a chance to help Turkey get back on the democracy boat. Both sides need each other in dealing with the refugee issue. But the recent arrests show that Turkey's democracy needs Europe more and more each day. Europe has to take this responsibility seriously if it is looking for a reliable partner in the region.

Just before the November elections, Chancellor Merkel had gone to Turkey despite the democratic deterioration in the country to talk about the common struggle against the refugee crises. This was a mistake. Now, Europe has a second chance to show the world that the values they stand for are not just on paper. These values were attacked in Paris and are now under attack in Turkey. It is high-time for European decision-makers to show solidarity.

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