Friday, May 20, 2016

United States Concerned by Turkish Parliament’s Vote on Constitutional Amendment

State Dept website
Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release
May 20, 2016
United States Concerned by Turkish Parliament’s Vote on Constitutional Amendment
The United States is concerned that the Turkish parliament’s adoption today of a constitutional amendment, which would lift the parliamentary immunity of more than 100 members of parliament, will have a chilling effect on freedom of speech across Turkey.  We understand the legislation will next be referred to Turkey’s president. 

A common tenet in democratic societies is equality before the law.  However, we firmly believe that the freedom to engage in political speech – even speech which many find controversial or uncomfortable – should and must be protected for everyone.  This is especially important when it involves speech by elected representatives of a country’s citizens.

We are closely monitoring developments regarding this prospective legal change.  If this change results in a narrowing of space for political debate, it will erode the quality of Turkey’s democracy.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Kirby: Turkey-US Strong relationship is made stronger by having press freedom improve

DPB #75
TUESDAY, MAY 3, 2015
Briefer: John Kirby, Spokesperson

My Qs & As w Kirby

QUESTION:  World Press Freedom Day.  This question was going to be for Secretary Kerry, but now to you.  (Laughter.)
MR KIRBY:  But I didn’t call on you.

QUESTION:  John, over the last three, four years during the Secretary’s tenure here in this building, Turkey’s freedom records in every aspect, whether press freedom or freedom of assembly or minorities and all that, have been backsliding very badly and dramatically.  Do you think that this administration could have done something different or better, or do you see any responsibility on your aspect to make Turkish administration handle these issues better than they have been handling?

Kirby: Path to success does NOT come by harassment of the media
MR KIRBY:  Well, a couple of points there.  We’ve talked about before that the trend we’re seeing in Turkey is not a good one.  It’s not going in the right direction.  I think I’ve described it as worrisome, and I think we still believe that.  We don’t believe that restricting freedom of the press is healthy for any democracy, and yet, we still believe that Turkey can live up to all its democratic principles, the ones that are enshrined in its constitution, and we want to see them do that and we want to see Turkey succeed.  We don’t believe the path to success, democratically speaking, is by harassment or – of the media or restricting their ability to do their job, and we’ve said that many, many times.

Kirby: Turkey-US Strong relationship is made stronger by having press freedom improve
We’re going to continue to make that case as clear and as concise as we can privately and publicly with Turkish leaders.  I don’t think you’re going to see that diminish.  I don’t think you’ll see, as long as there’s issues of press freedoms there, you’ll see me shying away from it here from this particular podium either because it matters to us, not just because it matters to us – and the Secretary talked about how much it does – but because Turkey matters to us, and we want to see, again, Turkey 
succeed.  They are a vital partner and a vital ally on some very significant regional issues, and we believe that a strong relationship, strong bilateral relationship with Turkey, which we have, is made stronger by having this trend – this press freedom trend that we talked about – improve.