Turkey experienced a fall among the ranks of the Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom index, falling to 154th on the list, which was topped for the second year in a row by Finland.
The organization stated that Turkey, a country of “political importance” amid the Syrian conflict, was “currently the world’s biggest prison for journalists.” The country suffered a six-slot fall, plummeting from 148th to 154th.
The report further targeted Turkey for failing to live up to its regional model aspirations “despite a varied and lively media” presence in the country. The Turkish state was criticized for pursuing “a paranoia about security, which has a tendency to see every criticism as a plot hatched by a variety of illegal organizations.”
The ongoing paranoia has intensified during the past year, which was “marked by a rising tension over the Kurdish question,” the organization said.
Syria became “the deadliest country for journalists,” taking one of the last spots, as journalists suffered both from the civil war and from government attempts to crack down on reporters.
The report also looked into some of the regional dynamics and noted especially Greece’ sharp drop down the list to number 84 as part of the “unraveling European model” that is otherwise filled with list-topper countries.
Greek journalists are “exposed to public condemnation and violence from both extremist groups and the police,” the report said. Countries like India, China and Russia were also named among those falling short of their regional ambitions.
Regional scores from zero to 100 ended up as 17.5 for Europe, 30.0 for the Americas, 34.3 for Africa, 42.2 for the Asia-Pacific and 45.3 for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The Middle East and North Africa region came last at 48.5.
The index focuses not on political developments but on “attitudes and intentions of governments toward media freedom,” with criteria ranging from “legislation to violence against journalists,” according to the organization.
Press needs to have moral values: Prime minister
Members of the press should not ignore the moral values that come with their occupation, the interest of their home country, public order and societal dynamics, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said today in a message released to celebrate Journalists’ Day on July 24.
“Our institutions of the press should not ignore the interest of the country, public order, societal dynamism and the moral values that their occupation brings while pursuing a free, objective and responsible way of doing their jobs,” the statement said.
The prime minister highlighted the press as “an institutional force” in advanced democracies, capable of “influencing and guiding a large part of society.”
Erdoğan also added that the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) government had realized “important reforms on the issue of information and freedom of expression in parallel of Turkey’s advancement in issues of human rights and democracy.”
July 24 marks the 105th anniversary of the lifting of censorship of the Turkish press.