Monday, February 27, 2006

Turkey's attempts to suppress freedom of expression in Denmark

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: Parliamentary questions

29 November 2005: E-4410/05

WRITTEN QUESTION by Mogens Camre (UEN) to the Commission

Subject: Turkey's attempts to suppress freedom of expression in Denmark

On 12 October 2005, 10 Muslim countries, among them Turkey, sent a letter via their ambassadors to the Danish Prime Minister calling on the Danish Government to take measures against the Danish press because the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten had printed some drawings of Muhammad.

On 6 November, Turkey again attacked Denmark's constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression by demanding that measures be taken against the TV station, ROJ TV, which broadcasts news, films, entertainment, discussion programmes and children's programmes to Kurds in Denmark.

On 12 January 2005, the official Radio and Television Board received a complaint from the Turkish embassy concerning ROJ TV which it dismissed in a decision of 21 April 2005. The decision can be read on the Radio and Television Board's website at

In connection with the meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Copenhagen, the Turkish Prime Minister was on a visit to Denmark. During the visit, Turkey's attitude towards freedom of expression was once again on view. The Turkish and Danish Prime Ministers were to have held a joint press conference on 15 November 2005 but Prime Minister Erdogan boycotted the conference and left the Danish Parliament. The reason for doing so was that ROJ TV was represented by a journalist. Mr Erdogan wanted the Danish Prime Minister to exclude a journalist from a TV station which is completely legal in Denmark. Naturally, a prime minister in a democratic country has no right to do so, which the Prime Minister tried to explain to his Turkish colleague. He emphasised to the press that he had no wish to do so either.

Does the Commission find it acceptable that a country negotiating with the EU with a view to accession attempts to compel current Member States to introduce restrictions on their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression, and what does the Commission intend to do in response to Turkey's attempts to suppress freedom of expression in Denmark?