by Roni Alasor / Lorin Sarkis

Brussels, 12 September 2016 – Middle East Diplomatic (MED) – Speaking at a briefing in the Press Club Brussels, organised by European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ/IFJ), Sanar Yurdatapan, composer, human rights activist and initiator of Freedom of Expression network of Turkey, said that if EU wants to achieve positive changes for democracy, freedom, fundamental human rights and to stop Erdogan’s systematic blackmailing and threats, it should use tougher policy.

Mr. Yurdatapan gave as example Russian policy against Erdogan, which became tougher after Ankara shot a Russian military flight. The conflict between the two countries resulted in loss of tourism and economic – trade relations for Turkey. Erdogan suffered very much and had to fight hard to repair the damaged relations and to rebuild trust with Moscow which is still undergoing process.

In a similar way, according Sanar Yurdatapan, EU could be a catalyst for positive changes in Turkey, having in mind that 60-70 % of the economic and trade relations of Ankara are with EU / European countries. If Europe imposes sanctions, for which Turkey has to pay a high price with economic and political consequences, including tourism, it will force the Turkish government to reconsider its policies and to work for more democratisation of the country.

During the press briefing, Sanar Yurdatapan, who coordinates Freedom of Expression network of Turkey, showed a video clip with contradictory speeches of Erdogan, illustrating the increase of hate speech and oppression towards media, opposition and civil society.

Mr. Yurdatapan pointed out that despite the rhetoric of Erdogan against ISIS, his real target are Kurds in Rojava (West part of Kurdistan, Syria) and Kurdistan Region (Iraq). Similarly, in national politics, Erdogan declares war against Gulen, but actually hunts Kurdish politicians, democratically elected mayors, Kurdish teachers, journalists and civil activists.

Out of round 115 arrested journalists in Turkey, the majority is Kurds or linked to the Kurdish case, said Sanar Yurdatapan.

Oliver Money-Kyrle, IFJ assistant general secretary, underlined that the problematic of journalists should be regarded more widely as oppression of the freedom of expression of artists, writers, syndicalists and all intellectual and oppositional forces, which are critical to the government.

IFJ-EFJ works hard to support different groups in Turkey when freedom of expression has been violated. Mehmet Koksal, EFJ project officer and moderator of the debate, confirmed that the organisation receives numerous requests for support from journalists who would like to leave Turkey or ask for presence of EFJ during the court hearings.

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries in the world and the EFJ represents 320,000 journalists in 41 countries in Europe.