10:44 GMT +319 November 2019
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    A protester holds a Turkish flag during a demonstration near the headquarters of the newspaper Zaman in Istanbul on March 6, 2016.

    Europe's Message to Turkey: No Media Freedom, No EU Accession

    © AFP 2019 / Ozan Kose
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    Turkey Bans Sputnik News Agency Website (25)
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    The EU have said that Turkey will not be allowed into the Union until freedom of expression is improved in their country and they stop imprisoning journalists for doing their job.

    The EU-Turkey deal, which speeds up Turkey's accession into the EU, cannot go ahead until they start to address the issues of freedom of expression and rights for minorities.

    Kati Piri, Socialist and Democrat (S&D) MEP and European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey said:

    "Today the EU and Turkey are facing many of the same challenges and we need each other in order to find joint solutions. But the backsliding in the rule of law and media freedom in Turkey will have to stop and reforms resumed."

    The EU drew a specific reference to the imprisonment of journalists, as well as academics losing their jobs for simply expressing their opinion.

    "We believe Turkey has to return to a path where journalists are not imprisoned for doing their job, where academics don't lose their jobs for expressing their views and where judges do not hesitate to rule due to fear of being displaced or fired," Ms Piri said.

    The EU comments come shortly after the release of Vice News journalist Mohammed Ismael Rasool, who was imprisoned for four months on terrorism charges. He was recently released on bail.

    Knut Fleckenstein MEP, S&D vice-president for foreign affairs, neighborhood policy and enlargement said:

    "We clearly condemn the intimidation of journalists in all its forms, the violent and illegal take-over of several newspapers and highlight the serious backsliding on freedom of speech, expression and opinion over the past two years."

    The EU has said in order for Turkey to facilitate its accession negotiation process, they need to align with European values.

    "A new constitution should improve and guarantee a secular state with full respect of the freedom of expression of minorities. We reiterate our call on Turkey to normalize its relations with all EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus," Fleckenstein added.

    The EU believes the pace of reforms has slowed down Turkey's accession into the EU and the serious deterioration of law and fundamental values is a serious concern.

    Victor Bostinaru S&D MEP and vice-president for foreign affairs said: "I strongly encourage, yet again the Council and the Commission to continue to reform the process to resolve outstanding bilateral issues with its neighbors and to play a constructive role in the Cyprus negotiations."

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    Turkey Bans Sputnik News Agency Website (25)

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    EU-accession, freedom, freedom of expression, journalism, human rights, media, European Parliament, European Union, Europe, Turkey
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