Norwegian ambassador says media freedom in Turkey a cause for concern

The ambassador of Norway to Turkey, Janis Bjorn Kanavin, has said that the issue of media freedom in Turkey is a cause for concern and”in his book,and” referring to his personal beliefs, adding that the Norwegian Embassy has been doing everything in its power to support freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Turkey.
Speaking to Sundayand’s Zaman in an exclusive interview, Kanavin replied to a question regarding the state of press freedom in Turkey and specifically the police raids on the headquarters of the Zaman daily and Samanyolu Broadcasting Corporation in Istanbul on Dec. 14. and”In my book itand’s a concern. I cam in 2011, and it has always been a concern [of mine].and”
Zamanand’s editor-in-chief at the time, Ekrem Dumanli, and Samanyoluand’s CEO Hidayet Karaca were detained, along with 29 other people, as reactions poured in from domestic and international journalist associations, such as US-based Freedom House, Amnesty International (AI) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
and”Freedom of expression is a powerful right,and” Kanavin said. and”It is difficult, there have been problems. For me, it has always been a concern and an area that this embassy has engaged with to understand, within the proper function of an embassy, to be supportive of an agenda of freedom of expression in general and freedom of media in particular.and”
Stating that freedom of speech is an issue that Norway takes an interest in not only in the case of Turkey, Kanavin said it is something that Norway is concerned about in its relations with all countries. and”As a nation, we benefit greatly from free media because it gives a system of checks and balances,and” he said.
Regarding the issue of polarization in Turkey, Kanavin said he has always been and”struck by the extent of polarizationand” every time he has visited, even before he became envoy, maintaining that he does not believe a superficial polarized climate was created in the run-up to the Nov. 1 snap election.
and”Norwegian media and your own media [Todayand’s Zaman] are saying that the polarization was generated to serve a particular purpose: for the election,andquot he said.
Kanavin disagreed that the polarization in Turkey was superficially created before the snap election: and”I was struck by this polarization whenever I came to Turkey [in the past], he said, adding that he had witnessed the polarization in society then, too.
Kanavin noted that he had previously been in Turkey when he was senior aisor to the former foreign minister of Norway during the years 2007 and 2008.
and”Iand’m caricaturing [the situation], but maybe it is what it means to be Turkish: to be skeptical, to have some kind of conspiracy theory behind everything that happens in societyandhellipandquot
On the subject of the independence and impartiality of the judiciary in Turkey, Kanavin said, and”The prosecutors and judges in Turkey have been, and still are, oneandhellipand”
and”They are trained together, they live together and they marry each other,and” he said. and”It is even the same commission that appoints them,and” Kanavin said, referring to the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).
Kanavin also made reference to the bilateral ties between Turkey and Norway, saying that both are peripheral countries to the EU looking in, but at the same time very intertwined in EU policy.
He added that both Turkey and Norway cooperate in NATO and the United Nations. and”We both agree on more open societies,and” he said.
and”Precisely through energy,and” Kanavin said, after being asked if the energy sector in Norway is something in which Turkish-Norwegian relations can be cultivated. and”We are very much against subsidies for fossil fuels, but we are producing the fuels and we want people to pay what it costs society.and”
and”You see, this is all about trust. In Norway the biggest renewable energy company is actually the biggest producer of renewable energy in Europe, Startkraft, and it recently opened its second hydroelectric power plant in Turkey.and”
Startkraft opened the Kizilirmak hydroelectric power plant in August with a ceremony attended by then-Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz, as well as Kanavin.
The ambassador said Norway also has a and”zero problems with neighborsand” policy, and”What our former government used to call andlsquoengagement policyand’.and”
and”Even if it is not our immediate business, we feel that if there is a conflict that could be resolved with some meaningful support we should try to provide this meaningful support,and” Kanavin said. and”So I feel we have something in common.and”
He added that the settlement process, which was launched in 2012 between the AK Party government and the terrorist Kurdistan Workersand’ Party (PKK) and its jailed leader Abdullah andOcalan, was established in order to solve the problems of Kurdish people in Turkey.
and”For us it [engagement policy] is a part of the sense that the settlement process in Turkey has to be revived and reach a positive outcome. It is part of a general mindset of peace and reconciliation,and” Kanavin stated.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN

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