Sat, 25 May 2024

Press Freedom 2024 + ominous EP elections

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from Prof. Dr. L. Doğan Tılıç, AEJ Turkey Representative, Ankara, May 4, 2024

In Turkey, one day before World Press Freedom Day, another journalist, Barış Terkoğlu, was sentenced to two years in prison for an article he wrote. Journalists in Turkey are being held in prison for what they write or say. According to the Turkey Journalists’ Association, there are currently 16 journalists in Turkish prisons.

Turkish journalism organisations called for the release of imprisoned journalists in order to speak about press freedom and freedom of expression, and to ensure the free circulation of news. They commemorated May 3 with statements such as: “In 2024, journalists are again marking World Press Freedom Day under the pressure of unemployment, censorship, self-censorship, threats, physical attacks, lawsuits, unjust detentions, and imprisonments.”

“We face the Press Freedom Day with bans, pressures, censorship, self-censorship, arrests, wages at the poverty line, and job insecurity. Despite all of this, our colleagues continue to insist on journalism and defend the public’s right to information, because they know that democracy and press freedom feed each other. The freer the press, the more democracy develops. On this very special day for us, our expectation is to work and produce in conditions where freedoms are fully implemented, where we are not threatened with unemployment, where we can organize in unions, and where we are far from all forms of censorship.

The AEJ Turkey Representation fully endorses these statements and once again declares that AEJ will always stand in solidarity with all Turkish professional organisations in the struggle for press freedom.

Meanwhile press freedom is on the line throughout Europe, as Honarary President Otmar Lahodynsky points out in this eloquent guest article for Die Presse in Vienna (DE) and translated into Eng here

With European Parliament elections starting on June 6, the danger – for the first time – is of a more-or-less rightist and/or plain anti-European bloc becoming dominant. It might also be the first time the EP has become truly poilitical.

William Horsley, chairman of the AEJ’s UK branch, has been exemplary not just in defending free journalism internationally, especially through the Council of Europe, but in organising regular salons in London at which journalists can meet and discuss with leading political and intellectual figures.

The most recent, lively, session with Cambridge politics professor Helen Thompson looked at whether the ongoing energy debacle is the root issue next month.   

William Horsley: A standard view of the European Parliament elections in June is that they will show a significant shift towards populist and virulently anti-EU parties, but on balance the centre will hold. The EU’s flagship “energy transition” plan will go on despite grassroots resistance and the risk of fuelling support for the far right. European leaders have finally realised they must raise their game drastically in response to Russia’s territorial gains and the devastating destruction it is wreaking in Ukraine. For many political actors the focus will as usual be on the power balance that results, and the ongoing search for a consensus on issues like migration and the cost of living which matter most to voters.

But what if that is too rosy, or simply wrong?

Speaking to the AEJ on Re-making Europe’s political map, Cambridge political scientist Helen Thompson stressed it is impossible to overstate the nightmare of what Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means for Europe’s future — especially because it strikes at what she sees as the EU’s key vulnerability: its enduring lack of energy security. In her unflinching assessment, the war is one of four big energy-related shocks that have hit Europe in quick succession in the past three years. In all cases, the negative effects are felt in the UK and other non-EU countries as well. Whole text

The blows have come at a time when America’s shale gas bonanza has largely freed it from its own energy vulnerability, and the whole architecture of international relations — including the reliable embrace of the USA that has nurtured the EU’s “peace project” since its birth  — is showing signs of coming undone.

As Helen Thompson tells it, at the start of 2021 the extent of the EU’s energy frailty was poorly understood. A parting of the ways was evident between the US and Europe on fundamental matters and EU states including Germany, Italy, and Hungary were dangerously over-reliant on Russia for energy… Link to whole text 

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