Turkish Media on Foreign Policy – Feb. 1-8, 2016

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Turkish Media on Foreign Policy – Feb. 1-8, 2016

This article is a joint product of Rusorient and SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence; Thanks to J.Hawk for the help with the English text.

On February 1, 2016, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Raad al-Hussein sent a written request to Turkey to investigate an incident which occurred in the country’s south-east in which Turkish security forces shot unarmed people. The request also made a reference to the arrest of Cumhuriyet’s chief editor Can Dondar and the paper’s Ankara office head Erdem Gul, and called on the Turkish leadership to respect fundamental human rights. Newspapers which reported on this issue adopted strict anti-government positions, which is as to be expected because such actions by Turkish authorities are not simply an attempt to deprive citizens of human rights but outright murder for which the government must answer. It is telling that the pro-government Sabah paper did not report on the incident.

On Wednesday, February 3, Turkey’s Ministry of Customs and Trade held an opening ceremony of the eTIR project involving Iran and Turkey which is a special procedure used to facilitate quick border crossing and reducing transportation costs. During the ceremony, Iran’s ambassador to Turkey Ali Reza Bikdeli made a speech in which he said that “Iran is a door which opens Turkey the path to the East, and Turkey Iran’s door to the West.” In this instance, Turkish press adopted pro-government positions: Yeni Şafak headlined its article using the second part of the above quote, which provides an understanding of its position which consists of a desire to emphasize the allegedly huge role played by Turkey in its relations with neighboring countries.

On February 4, 2016, PRC general consulate in Istanbul distributed among travel agencies on Turkey’s territory notifications that China will make it harder for Turkish citizens to obtain visas. The changes will affect not only individuals but also commercial entities. Turkish media made the assumption that China’s actions were motivated by its desire to minimize terrorism risk on its territory. Thus on the one hand Turkish press is trying to accuse PRC of cowardice, and on the other hand it emphasizes that the Chinese are the most generous and high-spending tourists, which means that such actions could badly hurt Turkey’s tourist industry.

On February 5, Turkish press universally reported that a wave of 15 thousand refugees was moving toward the border with Turkey, with 10 thousand already at border crossings. The press (Zaman, Cumhuriyet, Yeni Şafak, and others) attributed the refugee flow to the situation in Aleppo. Turkey’s PM said that Turkey should expect to accept 70 thousand additional refugees, and spend the recently allocated EU funds on aiding them. Turkish press attempted to raise the prestige of Turkey’s leadership which is rendering significant aid to Syrian citizens who were forced to leave their homes. What is interesting is that the majority of papers did not refer to them as refugees, even though that’s what they are.

During the week’s final working days, Turkish press actively discussed a video propagated by the UK’s Independence Party. It is part of a campaign linked with the EU exit referendum scheduled for 2017. The video lists possible negative consequences for the UK of admitting Turkey into the EU, and it also called on British citizens to vote in favor of exiting the EU Turkish papers, including Yeni Şafak, Milliyet, and Hürriyet, referred to the Independence Party’s actions as disgusting and, citing The Guardian, “baseless fears.”

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