In the first instance, we are grateful to Abdülhamit Bilici. We learned that when the chief of general staff was trying to open a new page, declaring that “even a terrorist is a human being,” the institution represented by the chief of general staff subjected an employee of the Cihan news agency to “treatment lower than the one afforded to terrorists.”
There are abundant examples of shameful accreditation practices. One such incident I personally witnessed occurred during the infamous Feb. 28, 1997 process. A crew from the Samanyolu TV (STV) station had been invited to cover a foreign visit of the foreign minister of the time. They went to Esenboğa Airport and boarded the plane, but they were later asked to get off the plane with the excuse that it was a military plane. The STV crew was banished, in front of the eyes of all other press officials, from a plane that had been acquired using taxes paid by this nation, as noted by the chief of general staff.
Those who feel enthusiastic and cry over the Saylan incident insist on turning a blind eye to the Aykurt incident, which occurred at roughly the same time. These people are largely well-known columnists and other press professionals, including those who have written a series of criticisms about the accreditation scheme the Prime Ministry imposed on certain correspondents. (Please do not take this sentence of mine as approval of this practice by the Prime Ministry.)
Those who had raised the devil about the tax issue and the prime minister’s call to boycott certain papers and who had asked the European Union and the US for help have now announced that they are awaiting the response of the chief of general staff before taking a position. What sort of answer do they expect?
I have serious doubts about the interest, if any, the EU, which is rightfully sensitive with respect to freedom of the press, has in the Aykurt incident. EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn recently noted that with respect to the tax dispute, they cannot meddle with the judicial process, but continued to express the EU’s concerns over freedom of the press, with open reference to the media group involved in the dispute, saying the bloc would closely monitor the process.
I am not sure whether after their immediate condemnation of the bombing of the Cumhuriyet newspaper, the EU felt any embarrassment when the bombing was found to be the work of Ergenekon. Perhaps they have learned their lesson by concluding that the best policy is to wait and see with respect to complicated issues in Turkey.
However, currently, we have a very clear incident that is not complicated or ambiguous. We have at hand neither bombings undertaken by unknown assailants nor a tax dispute whose trial is under way, requiring us to be cautious. Do you think that refraining from rescuing a journalist in a place -- which was described by the deputy chairman of the Grand Unity Party (BBP) as “a place where even a cat should not be left alone” -- just because of his membership in a media group whose ideas you don’t like is compatible with freedom of the press? How can applying accreditation criteria on a media group even on a mountain be reconciled with the freedom of expression, which the EU so values? The EU should closely monitor this issue for the sake of its own credibility.