Dear President Van Rompuy,
Dear President Barroso,
Dear President Schulz,
On behalf of the European Federation of Journalists, I am writing to draw your attention to the alarming press freedom situation in Turkey ahead of the visit of Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, on 21 January in Brussels regarding the EU accession of Turkey.
While we welcome the continuous dialogue and progress made on the EU accession of Turkey, we would like to highlight the regressive developments in the areas of human rights, in particular, freedom of expression and information, in Turkey.
To date, 60 journalists still remain in prison as a result of their work as journalists. The majority of them were accused of committing terrorist activities under the Turkish Penal Code that aims to silence the critical voice of journalists.
The situation has reached a critical point. Recent decisions by the judicial body to imprison five journalists to life sentences have shocked the whole journalism community across Europe and around the world. As a result, the EFJ and its affiliates have come together protesting against the decision as the justice system in Turkey clearly has failed these journalists who deserve a fair trial.
We therefore call on you to put further pressure on the government of Turkey and its Prime Minister to fulfil the democratic values and uphold the fundamental rights as guaranteed by the EU Treaty. It is crucial that the EU sets out clear terms and conditions for Turkey on Chapter 23 Judiciary and Fundamental Rights and 24 Justice, Freedom and Security in the accession process and bring Turkey in line with the EU regarding these issues (in Chapter 23 & 24).
We wish you a fruitful discussion on EU accession of Turkey. We would appreciate a reply on this issue.
Mogens Blicher Bjerregård
Baroness Catherine Ashton
High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy/
Vice-President of the European Commission