Erdoğan defends alcohol law: not imposition, protecting youth

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with US President Barack Obama on a trip to Washington in 2009. (Photo: AA, Kayhan Özer)

May 28, 2013, Tuesday/ 13:01:00

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has defended a bill proposing an alcohol ban that was recently passed by Parliament, saying that it does not totally prohibit either alcohol or smoking and that young people need to be protected.

Erdoğan spoke critically of those who expressed unhappiness with the law, maintaining that it is a result of the religious worldview of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and represents the imposition of a lifestyle. “We are not imposing anything, but we won't tolerate any imposition [on us] either,” he said, adding, “We are just presenting choices [to society].”

Noting that similar laws also exist in developed countries, Erdoğan said, “Those who say alcohol is banned in Turkey are, simply expressed, liars.” The prime minister recalled that scientific findings have amply demonstrated the misfortunes connected with alcohol and he added, “Why should a law [previously] adopted by some boozers be considered esteemed and this law not be?” The constitution authorizes the government to protect youth against vices. Erdoğan underlined that this was what the government actually did with this law and was fulfilling its responsibility. “We have passed this law to be able to raise healthy generations,” he emphasized.

Erdoğan is also confident that the law will help to significantly reduce the number of traffic accidents, given that, as Erdoğan noted, alcohol is one of the major causes for road accidents in Turkey. Describing the law as a historic step, “I do believe the number of traffic accidents will significantly decrease,” he said.

In the meantime, leader of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli on Tuesday said his party's support for the law that limits sale of alcoholic beverages should not be interpreted as support for the AK Party government.

“We naturally approved the bill that restricts the sale and use of alcoholic beverages, but it should be known that our attitude is never support for the AK Party,” Bahçeli said.

His remarks came during his party's parliamentary group meeting.

The law proposed by the AK Party government seeking limitations on the consumption of alcoholic beverages and tobacco was approved by Parliament on Friday, introducing strict restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages and penalties for those violating the law. The government says it drafted the bill in order to protect children and young people from the harmful effects of alcoholic consumption.

According to the law, campaigns, promotions or events that aim to encourage the use or sale of these products will not be allowed. Companies that produce, import or market alcoholic beverages will not be permitted to sponsor events using the brand or logo of their products. These companies will also not be allowed to offer free alcoholic beverages as a promotion or giveaway. Violation of this section of the law will incur a fine of between TL 5,000 and TL 200,000. No images of alcoholic beverages will be allowed in TV series, movies or music clips, and any that do appear will be blurred.

In addition, the sale of alcoholic beverages will be banned between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Those caught violating this section will incur a fine of between TL 20,000 and TL 100,000.

The prime minister also stated that his government had to take measures against traffic accidents caused by too much alcohol consumption.