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Deciphering the Mindset behind the anti-Turkey Bias in European Reporting

Deliberately Misunderstanding Turkey 101 – a new hot pick in European journalism studies? Has fair and objective mainstream reporting about Turkey become extinct? After the Gezi Park protests 2013 –which the author labels ‘the failed park coup’– via a real military coup attempt in 2016 and the “Yes” vote in the April 2017 constitutional referendum, Turkish news reported in Europe is ever more biased. The article presents examples of recent and deliberate misrepresentation of facts about Turkey and aims to understand underlying negative currents in Europe’s political classes.

Deciphering the Mindset behind the anti-Turkey Bias in European Reporting
A poster used by the supporters of Brexit who openly consider Turkey’s membership and Turkish citizens as a threat to the nature and identity of the UK and used this as a motivating factor to win their referendum.

Generalizations: Just this Once, as Misrepresenting Facts about Turkey Seem Fashionable

Generalizations should not normally find their way into serious academic publications; yet in analyzing European media reports on modern Turkey, one has no choice. Sadly one concludes that besides some noteworthy exceptions, in principle mostly negative, often insulting or derogatory remarks are printed or shown on primetime television; at best cheap anti-Turkey propaganda, at worst outright insults and lies. Hence, arriving at that one-off generalization is made easy. It requires reading and listening but as suitable quotes and headlines can be found basically every week, sometimes every day, sourcing material is no obstacle at all. Evaluating European mainstream media in a number of countries over any given period of time is sufficient.

Yet arguing the case that all our European colleagues have become anti-Turkey out of their own free will is wrong; of course they have not! Some –for one reason or another– are members of the verbally assaulting Turkey group by default but it is in principle their editors and publishers whohave picked Turkey as their preferred demonizing subject and unless one wants to lose their job what can you do?

European media is not as free and independent anymore as it once was; government and big investor interests are most certainly reflected in today’s negativity vis-à-vis modern Turkey

There is a clear link between Europe’s political classes and negativity expressed towards Turkey, too. European media constantly claims that it is totally free and independent. However, it would not have turned so anti-Turkey if their national leaders and European administrators in Brussels had not shown that ill-fated way first. If, for example, a European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey announces day in, day out that the nation’s EU accession talks should come to a halt, what other news than just that headline can even a moderate, non-biased journalist deliver to his editor? Before he or she would say ‘Why Mrs. Kati Piri is wrong about Turkey,’ that journalist would in current editorial climates probably risk losing his or her job!

While writing this commentary, a tough choice had to be made: re-state headlines and a few paragraphs of a number of articles only, or quote with full name and publication? The quoting of other journalist’s works is absolutely normal and is not meant to be derogatory from my side and is required to stay factual –otherwise this commentary would not make sense as what is said could not be verified. Critical comments, per return, are more than welcome!



The Decline of an Independent European Media

European media is not as free and independent anymore as it once was; government and big investor interests are most certainly reflected in today’s negativity vis-à-vis modern Turkey. This paints an even darker picture as to the state of media freedom in Europe. A media, and many of their host country’s governments, which almost every day criticize Turkey for what they call a lack of freedom of expression whilst discreetly overlooking the fact that it is actually European media which is no longer ‘free.’ In fact, this author’s very own experience, on more than one occasion, of publishers declining to publish because objective ‘pro Turkey’ commentary is not en vogue.

Nevertheless one further underlying motivation for this piece is not to burn even more bridges within my profession. Correct, the article wishes to highlight what must be labeled as a deplorable development, yet at the same time aims at those of us who already analyze Turkey through a much more fair and open lens albeit having great difficulty obtaining editorial approval to be further encouraged. In addition, the author hopes to inspire a new generation of aspiring European journalism and communications students to enter a profession which under normal circumstances is one of the most challenging, interesting and intellectually rewarding careers one can imagine!

Due to space restrictions the number of countries selected for making my point was strictly limited and a few particularly biased comments and publications chosen. For clarity’s sake, individual social media accounts and radio broadcasts were not included.



Fair and Objective Journalism: A Myth?

“Could you please submit your text about the European Investment Bank supporting Turkish small and medium sized enterprises by 1400 hours? A photo would be nice, too!” A standard request from an editor!

A normal headline would be something along the lines of ‘EIB supports Turkish SME with new loan facility; which sectors are promising, which need innovation first?’ Asking critical questions, not shying away from asking twice if necessary, then analyzing whatever other details were provided; and then asking (silent) questions in ones’ mind once again before using ones keyboard in the hotel lobby as time is of the essence.

Personally speaking, a good journalist does not wake up in the morning and says whose reputation or what country do we verbally destroy today? Others would. You might ask: to whom is this provocatively referring to? To many of our otherwise esteemed colleagues from the same profession who happen to have Turkey as their brief either as a local correspondent or back in their native countries.

At the time of that above mentioned particular past real-life event, there were just over 170 fully accredited foreign journalists and media representatives based in Turkey. If one of those colleagues who by chance would have dared to attend –in my years’ in Turkey few ever did as the topic was supposedly ‘too Turkey positive’– they probably would have wired back home ‘Turkish industry collapsed, needs European emergency funding.’ If even more political satire were permitted, ‘EIB promotes Turkish dictatorship; we taxpayers pay the bill, why?’ End of satire, let me return to more verifiable comments.

So what actually is journalism? Journalism, in the public eye offers images of hectic newsrooms, reporters being dispatched to cover events only to rush back some hours later in order to write it all up in time for the editing deadline. Yet, job descriptions are often blurred; a journalist no longer necessarily works for a print publication. He or she might just as well be employed by a television or radio station, either in the story writing department or as on-screen presenter having drafted her or his very own commentary. A fascinating profession, believe me.

Xenophobia is the brief and the result is no longer objective reporting. And exactly this is happening in European mainstream media right now. The country in question: today’s modern Republic of Turkey!

But regardless of whether we are sent to the opening of a local neighborhood charity gala, fly to the capital to interview a member of parliament about new tax laws or spend two days glued to our computer writing a full page feature about the state of affairs of immigrant children entering the national education system and the obstacles they face, a journalist first and foremost must report the facts.

A few exceptions from that rule exist of course. A publisher may invite guest commentary not always representing the standard editorial line and there are opinion (often refered to as OpEd) pages where longer essays may tackle ‘hot topics’ yet with a more personal view attached to it. We should call this the less factual, more opinion pages or program segments. They are vital; they have their place and space.

Merriam-Webster1 defines journalism as follows:

1a) the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media, 1b) the public press, 1c) an academic study concerned with the collection and editing of news or the management of a news medium; and 2a) writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine, 2b) writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation, 2c) writing designated to appeal to current popular taste or public interest.

With all modesty, a good journalist hopes to manage to, in particular, stick with 2b) unless we find ourselves on the above mentioned opinion page. The critical point is 2c). Yet, how is it that a high number of senior trained colleagues, often equipped with many more years of professional experience than myself, currently working for European mainstream media outlets have decided to misinterpret point 2c). Is it not only try to appeal to popular interest, but actually manipulate it by turning previously high-quality publications and television programs into cheap populist propaganda machines thus high-jacking the otherwise good reputation of our shared profession? On top of that, would they ever imagine the negative fallout from bashing an entire nation, i.e. Turkey, on every possible occasion? Xenophobia, Islamophobia, Turkeyphobia unless this is done intentionally and not only in the full knowledge of their publishers and editors but per direct order from management! My suspicion is exactly that, a saddening disqualifying modern Turkey media campaign.



Anti-Turkey Mainstream Media Reporting Ordered by Editors, Publishers

The word ‘mainstream’ as such does not have anything disrespectful attached to itself. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “considered normal, and having or using ideas, beliefs, etc. that are accepted by most people.”2

Please do not get me wrong: a good journalist does not have to be neutral. In that case, newspapers or television programs would only need to copy and paste industry or government press releases and be done with it. A good journalist makes a strong point, asks uncomfortable questions and can write commentary highlighting that out of ten questions asked only two were adequately answered by one’s opposite number. But as written in the earlier introduction to journalism, there is a huge difference between stating facts after having asked questions or simply ‘interpreting’ matters according to personal taste.

Ever more surprising is what seems to be a very unfortunate trend amongst many otherwise highly qualified members of exactly those mainstream print publications and television stations. Is it newsroom peer pressure, or by fear of losing one’s job, should writing or speaking be perceived as too positive? Or direct order from the editor or upon direct orders from owner and management that an entire nation was declared country non grata and journalists are asked to only publish negative content no matter the subject about that particular country and its leaders. Thus, xenophobia is brief and the result is no longer objective reporting. And exactly this is happening in European mainstream media right now. The country in question: today’s modern Republic of Turkey!



Shocking Examples from High Profile Media Members

As stated earlier, the examples are not meant to be derogatory vis-à-vis any fellow journalist, but simply quote from other people’s work to make my point. The author prefers to take a closer look at a number of comments that may have slipped through a more casual observer’s net. The article does not simply re-state anti-Turkey headlines; the author searched for editorial pages or other lead contributions. This allows for a better understanding as to whether Turkey bashing is a short-lived phenomenon cashing in on current populist sentiments in a number of European policy making quarters or a long-term disrespectful attitude. What I wanted to find out is whether Turkey has simply become the prototype of a modern Muslim democracy European mainstream media and politicians profess to hate because a majority of their readers/viewers/voters are supposedly so ill-fatedly anti-Muslim. The author would argue one should say they are ‘made’ anti-Muslim by xenophobic politicians and followers in the mainstream media or is there a unique Turkey factor inherent to all of this? The article quotes from sources based in Germany, Austria and the United Kingdom. Translations are my own wording and not a certified translator’s work.

Many European publications directly targeted President Erdoğan with negative and inflammatory articles and editorials, some of them even calling on Turkish citizens to vote “No” in the referendum. Many European publications directly targeted President Erdoğan with negative and inflammatory articles and editorials, some of them even calling on Turkish citizens to vote “No” in the referendum. 

As this piece claims an editorial hand in many anti-Turkey pieces, why not start with a perfect proof for that theory? An article penned by one of the four publishers of broadsheet German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Berthold Kohler on April 18, 2017, shall be my first example.3 In an article entitled “Abschied von den Lebenslügen” which one could translate as “Farewell from Self-deception,” the author states Germany’s political classes are shocked.4 Ridiculing those remaining German politicians who apparently had a serious interest in Turkey’s full EU membership but would now back down (after the “Yes” vote) he then continues by saying that the way German based Turkish voters opted clearly for a “Yes” in the April 16 constitutional referendum resulted equally in disbelief in the capital Berlin.5 Kohler then writes that at least in those European countries with a free press, everyone would have known that the referendum represents a choice between democracy and despotism.

This type of writing and reasoning gives a perfect insight into the mindset of a co-publisher of a leading European mainstream broadsheet. In particular the last point is eye-opening: as long as European media would say a “No” vote in the constitutional referendum, is best this media outlet would be described as ‘free.’ Hence, any media outlet arguing for a “Yes” vote by definition is ‘not free.’ Where do we find objective, fair journalism in this first example? With all respect, nowhere!

As long as European media would say a “No” vote in the constitutional referendum, is best this media outlet would be described as ‘free.’ Hence, any media outlet arguing for a “Yes” vote by definition is ‘not free’

On to my next case study; if your boss sets the anti-Turkey tone, who as a journalist from within the in-house team would not obligingly join in that ill-fated chorus? Exactly this is what happened only four days later when on April 22, 2017, Regina Mönch wrote in the same newspaper the article “German-Turkish Erdoğan Fans: Deselecting the Republic”6 and I quote: “This is more than simply a sign for often failed integration amongst Turkish immigrants, of their children and grandchildren. This is pure rejection. Those who argue German-Turks should sort this situation out amongst themselves are already trapped. Because, this affinity to anti-democracy and lawlessness since long has spread its negative impact! It is visible on the streets, and not just during Erdoğan demonstrations, yet, above all else in the schools. The “Yes” voters from today, how and aimed at what are they going to raise/educate their children?”7 Here I translated a longer paragraph (the full German version can be found in endnote section) as it is a perfect tool to measure the underlying current, the “in every word shall I let my reader feel I do not like Turkey's approach.”

What exactly is said then? That we must worry about Turkish-German parents? Interestingly, the author for example does not distinguish between Turkish-Turkish and previously Turkish, now only German nationals and how they educate their children because a majority of them voted for constitutional change on April 16, 2017. And the author furthermore argues that we cannot trust our Turkish neighbors to find a solution by leaving them to themselves as apparently they dislike democracy and prefer a lawless state.

The Gezi Park protests from the year 2013 were used in European media circles to either hope for, or even actively support, a public uprising against Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AK Party

Is this neo-imperialism or just another blatant form of derogatory thinking put into words? To me this is dividing a nation, a large segment of the ‘home’ population, almost inciting hatred first amongst the huge Turkish community in Germany, in addition to fueling anti-European sentiment in Turkey and understandably so.

Where do we find objective, fair journalism in this second example? Once again with all due respect, nowhere!

Similarly we can analyze another example. A short while before the April 16, 2017 constitutional referendum, which apparently was that big shock to the European political establishment (see article quote above), German weekly Der Spiegel ran the following story on March 9, 2017, written by Hasnain Kazim, “Result of Criticizing Erdoğan – Welcome to İstanbul, You Are Arrested.”8 This sensationalist headline lets the reader assume that dozens, if not hundreds of foreign citizens had recently been arrested upon arriving at İstanbul airport supposedly because of having criticized President Erdoğan before. It is assumed that someone did listen in on their private conversations before departing for Turkey. Yet when reading the article we are introduced to exactly one person with Turkish roots who now resides in Austria and was unable to enter Turkey. Correct, later on in the article we learn that an Austrian politician and sources from the German Foreign Ministry relayed between them 15 cases are known of, but not a single detail is given. It is said maybe there are twelve here and there, commentary as if looking into a crystal ball. Every year tens of millions of foreign tourists holiday in Turkey including many of Turkish origin. In fact, millions of ordinary Turkish citizens travel year in, year out between Europe and Turkey. Now, after a heinous coup attempt, we are informed about fifteen plus the one case, as written about in this article, who have problems re-entering Turkey. Bias or what? Perhaps their passports or visas had expired, perhaps they had outstanding legal issues, or perhaps they had indeed something to hide. Perhaps they were innocent of course, everyone is presumed innocent until found guilty both in Turkey and in Europe! But could this not happen with other nation’s citizens too, an Austro-American being refused entry into the United States for example? No further comment necessary.

Continuing with my referencing, on March 3, 2016, well before the heinous coup attempt later that same year, Thomas Seifert wrote in Der Tagesspiegel.9 Titled “Erdoğan and Press Freedom: It Is No Solution When Europe Stays Silent,” the author claims that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has managed what Germany’s Christian Social Union (CSU) has unsuccessfully tried for years: to disqualify Turkey as an EU candidate country. This comment allows me to add to the general notion of negative Turkey reporting the assembled European mainstream media’s personal dislike of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Hate speech needs a ventilator indeed and equally unfair as targeting one country, here one individual person is targeted even further.

Seldom during my search for recent Turkey commentary did I find noteworthy exceptions, did I read or listen to objective commentary. One sourced from the same spring of last year do I insert here: Erdoğan: Media Should Not Confuse (Fair) Criticism with Insults, was a commentary in Der Standard run on April 1, 2016.10 I know of some others but they are proverbially the objective needle in the anti-Turkey haystack. This no-byline commentary allows President Erdoğan to be adequately quoted by stating his own words. It was a short comment but at least a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

Back to the eyebrow raising ‘normal’ intentional misunderstanding of Turkey: Even closer to the foiled military coup attempt could we read once more in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung an interesting, in fact as interesting as headline-grabbing, piece written on June 19, 2016, by Michael Martens, titled “Neuer Ärger um den Gezi-Park” which translates into “New Troubles about Gezi Park.” Here we find proof for my assumption as first hinted at in my abstract that the Gezi Park protests from the year 2013 were used in European media circles to either hope for, or even actively support, a public uprising against Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AK Party). The author restates that during the summer of 2013, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators voiced concerns against the tyrannical rule of Erdoğan and that his power had started to erode, at least for some weeks. ‘Insult’ would be an understatement should I really comment upon that few lines.11

But it is getting worse if at all possible, my next quote: a totally misleading piece appeared on the very same day on Web.De Magazine and lamented the fact that tear gas was used against rock and roll fans. Cliché par excellence, “Tear Gas Was Used against Rock (and Roll) Fans in İstanbul: Buildings Planned for Gezi Park,” this headline cannot get any more typical in this context.12 Then however the article continues by mentioning that demonstrators shouted ‘fascists’ and ‘murderers’ aimed at the government at that time. It goes on to say, as if complaining, that some people had been arrested. So is shouting murderer at a democratically elected politician acceptable? And if someone, who does just that, is then confronted by police, is it the police officer who is wrong?

First, tear gas is perhaps unfortunately used in almost all European capitals regularly as is widely reported on some television stations. No one complains, ever. Second, demonstrators who shout ‘murderer’ towards a democratically elected government may as well plan an armed attack on public officials. Who knows? Third, a small number of arrests underlined that ultimately clever policing resulted in singling out the real trouble makers. But finally, the reader who lives far away now expects that the Turkish government and police arrest each and every music lover who prefers rock and roll over for example classical music. Hence, if I may try and paraphrase a hate-speech writer’s interpretation and pair it with an innocent reader’s normally unbiased perspective his reaction could just as well be: Islam is bad. The Muslim world is bad. Rock and Roll fans in a Muslim nation are automatically arrested and tear-gassed. It is written in our mainstream newspaper, so it must be correct. Here, I do not even have to ask the question anymore whether this is fair or objective journalism, still with all respect due to my fellow commentators.

Departing German language media for a while, we travel on to the United Kingdom where apparently foreign anti-Turkey aficionados have it even easier being published in national media than any homegrown journalist or perhaps pro-Turkey writer. It means that if anti-Turkey journalism at home is perhaps still not in sufficient supply, editors search almost exclusively for anyone who once resided in Turkey but for one reason or the other does not do so anymore. No explanations are ever given as to whether or not that person has perhaps something politically to hide himself! Being anti-Turkey is enough, whatever your past is, you are immediately whitewashed.

The Observer, as part of The Guardian, ran the following headline on July 30, 2016, penned by Mahir Zeynalov, a journalist who for the time being writes from America, “Young, Old, Conservative, Liberal: Turkey in Shock over Journalists’ Arrest.”13Here it all depends on one’s personal view. I could have written something along the lines of “Young, Old, Conservative, Liberal: Vast Turkish Citizens Majority Wants Their Democracy Strengthened, Not Destroyed by Coup Perpetrators.” Granted, two versions of perhaps the same event but nevertheless, my view would not even have managed to being kept on file for later use, most definitely not in English language mainstream media shortly after a heinous coup attempt was thwarted by the proud Turkish people themselves.

Coming to a close and clearly one of my favorites from the recent past is a Reuters quote, slamming Turkey’s economic performance shortly before the Turkish Statistical Institute announced its remarkable growth figures for Turkey on March 31, 2017 and as featured in Daily Sabah (2.9 per cent for 2016).14 The Reuters quote goes as follows: “In double whammy for Turkey, Fitch cuts to junk after S&P slashes outlook.” The article then states that “both agencies sounded concern[ed] about political insecurity after a failed coup last year, as well as pressure on the central bank.”15

One can only congratulate both the ratings agencies, and the writer’s foresight (pun intended). Yet on a much more serious note, this is slander. Potentially negatively impacting potential foreign investors! Had Reuters at that point in history, turned into nothing more than a disrespecting Turkey propaganda machine, too?



Who Is Afraid of a Strong, Influential, Prosperous, Peaceful Turkey?

Without exceeding the limits of factual commentary, one could easily have published a complete volume with quotes similar to the ones presented above. Or many volumes indeed if this author would have been able to add articles and broadcasts from further countries such as The Netherlands (remember a Minister from the Republic of Turkey was hindered from entering her very own Consulate but how many Dutch language editorial commentary actually defended freedom of assembly and freedom of speech?). Despite my limited selection we can nevertheless begin to read between the lines; we can start to decipher the anti-Turkey sentiments as presented and begin to understand the underlying reasoning for this sad development.

The European mainstream media, in reflecting European mainstream popular sentiment are afraid of a strong, prosperous, peaceful, powerful, influential and stable Turkey

My humble view after having worked and lived in Turkey for over a decade, still writing for a Turkish newspaper and frequently being asked to comment about Turkey albeit from Turkish publishers: the European mainstream media, in reflecting European mainstream popular sentiment are afraid of a strong, prosperous, peaceful, powerful, influential and stable Turkey. But that mainstream popular sentiment did not exist before the mainstream media and mainstream politicians told them it did; the moment xenophobic politicians jumped on the anti-Turkey bandwagon mainstream politicians even reinforced their anti-Turkey rhetoric. A vicious cycle…



As Europe Started Its Descent, Turkey Began Her Ascent 

Another pun intended, it continued to get worse; that is if you are negatively inclined towards Turkey. There were positive news everywhere in Turkey should one only care to look (or your editor allows you to look!). Consider the state of the Turkish economy for example. We note for 2016, and despite a global crisis having started long ago and the July 2016 coup attempt, a sensational 2.9 percent growth. Take a look at the tourism sector, from ever growing to a short decline in large parts due to negative Turkey news emanating from European mainstream media. Evaluate modernization efforts in many domains. For example, think E-Government, which works better in Turkey than in most European states I know. Use brand-new roads and ride on high-speed trains. Become a fan of Turkey’s many sports champions; think Women’s Volleyball Champions League victory only this week whilst writing this article. Fly out of a Turkish airport, with over 50 regional airports and İstanbul III soon to be inaugurated. Discuss remarkable success stories in the field of education and schools. My own daughter goes to school in Turkey, as we moved regularly for professional reasons she already ‘tested’ three and all three of them no matter where – in İstanbul, Bolu, and Ankara – are of the highest teaching and learning quality. Then accept the fact that Turkish doctors and hospitals are so good that health tourism is booming indeed where a huge choice between state and private hospitals with state of the art technology is on offer. Make more mobile phone calls than anywhere else as networks are reliable and affordable and add to this high speed internet and mostly wireless for free in almost all hospitality establishments. Send funds via instant banking literally in an instant instead of a weeklong wait for your cash.

As the European Union was beginning its descent first into an uncharted economic, then second into uncharted political territory, respectively, and long before Brexit, Turkey began its ascent towards becoming a major political and economic force

In other words, 1001 reasons to be jealous, to envy Turkey. Now add being a humanitarian role model by having welcomed three million refugees onto their home territory when some European nations complain about 50000 people who need urgent help. Then we can talk about political clout and Turkey’s strategic position in a volatile region at Europe’s doorstep! As the European Union was beginning its descent first into an uncharted economic, then second into uncharted political territory, respectively, and long before Brexit, Turkey began its ascent towards becoming a major political and economic force. Brussels, many European Union capitals and as a consequence of having no other apparent choice, the mainstream media was shell-shocked. How come Turkey, how dare you Turkey! From a political toy dependent on your European (and previously American) masters to an independent, strong, powerful nation state no longer afraid of risking a verbal or legal confrontation!

I am not saying external forces started the fight against Erdoğan and Turkey but they certainly did not prevent it either. Gezi Park, the next such moment, and then the coup attempt from last July. Now the referendum, and still no return to military rule, still no successful coup, still no economic catastrophe, still no civil war… Today’s Turkey bashing in the media would not have happened had European politicians made their point in a much more fair and objective manner. Although I argue ordinary journalists would not automatically fall into the populist and hate-speech traps laid by their editors and publishers, once the general political climate heads that way, too, few would have the courage to swim against the tide.

No change in mainstream politics, no change in mainstream media. A sad picture indeed!



The Way Forward as I Believe There Is One

The point of departure for this commentary contribution was my above stated observation that in the case of reporting about Turkey, it seems that fair, objective European mainstream journalism has become almost extinct except in a few laudable cases.

But what really interests me is searching for ways to overcome this bias, as it is unnatural. As I tried to describe in this analysis it is not the normal behavior of a well-trained journalist but a peer-pressure situation in which editors and publishers have declared modern Turkey for quite some years by now a ‘country non grata’ if this terminology is linguistically acceptable.

The entire European media mentality must change towards embracing once again the values of liberty and equality. Yet, wider society cannot be seen isolated from just one single profession regardless of its immense impact on public opinion either. From kindergarten to high school to university and onto the factory production floors, inciting hatred within society must once again be branded as a crime, as something totally wrong.

The entire European media mentality must change towards embracing once again the values of liberty and equality

And there is an even wider picture. If this European Union, this Council of Europe and indeed, European society has an interest to survive instead of turning back the clocks and once again becoming nothing more than a collection of hundreds of mini-fiefdoms whilst the rest of the world looks elsewhere –in some instances even parts of their very core, think post-Brexit Britain looking elsewhere– something must be done. Xenophobia, Islamophobia and Turkey bashing in particular must be erased as quickly as possible.

The European mainstream media could play a vital part in this undertaking. I sincerely hope it is not too late. For all the positive developments in Turkey since early in 2003 and all the crises in Europe during that same period, a logical solution would be to have Turkey becoming a full EU member state. Start with visa liberalization, upgrade the Customs Union, open all remaining negotiation chapters and finally set a date for eventual EU accession. Or not!

And if not Turkey and her proud 80 million inhabitants would have every right, the same as the United Kingdom, to look elsewhere, too!  



  1. “Definition: Journalism,” Merriam-Webster, retrieved April 27, 2017 from https://www.merriam- 
  2. “Definition: Mainstream,” Cambridge Dictionary, retrieved April 27, 2017, from 
  3. Berthold Kohler, “Abschied von den Lebenslügen,” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, (April 18, 2017), retrieved from
  4. The text in German: Das Politische Deutschland Ist Schockiert. 
  5. The text in German: Für Fassungslosigkeit in Berlin Sorgt Mindestens So Sehr das Wahlverhalten der Türken in Deutschland.
  6. The text in German: Deutsch-Türkische Erdogan-Fans; Die Republik Wird Abgewählt.
  7. Regina Mönch, “Deutschtürkische Erdogan-
    Fans: Die Republik Wird Abgewählt,” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, (April 22, 2017) retrieved from The text in German: “Das ist mehr als nur ein Zeichen vielfach gescheiterter Integration unter türkischen Einwanderern, ihren Kindern und Kindeskindern. Das ist Ablehnung pur. Wer meint, das sollten die Deutschtürken unter sich regeln, sitzt schon in der Falle. Denn diese Affinität zur Antidemokratie und Rechtlosigkeit entfaltet längst ihre ungute Kraft. Sie zeigt sich auf den Straßen, nicht nur bei Erdogan-Demonstrationen, und vor allem in Schulen. Die Ja-Wähler von heute, wie und wozu werden sie ihre Kinder erziehen?”
  8. Hasnain Kazim, “Folge von Erdogan-Kritik; Willkommen in Istanbul, Sie sind festgenommen,” Der Spiegel, (March 9, 2017), retrieved from 
  9. Thomas Seifert, “Erdogan und die Pressefreiheit; Wenn Europa schweigt, ist das keine Lösung,” Der Tagesspiegel, (March 3, 2016) retrieved from 
  10. “Erdogan: Medien Sollten Kritik Nicht Mit Beleidigung Verwechseln,” Der Standard, (April 
    1, 2016) retrieved from
  11. Michael Martens, “Neuer Ärger um den Gezi-
    Park,” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, (June 19, 2016) retrieved from
    14296468.html. The text in German: Im Sommer 2013 sah es für einige Wochen so aus, als könne die Macht des damaligen türkischen Regierungschefs Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ins Wanken geraten. Hunderttausende Türken beteiligten sich an landesweiten Demonstrationen gegen den selbstherrlichen Regierungsstil Erdogans (…).
  12. “Tränengas Gegen Rockfans in Istanbul – Bebauung von Gezi-Park Geplant,”, (June 19, 2016) retrieved from
  13. Mahir Zeynalov, “Young, Old, Conservative, 
    Liberal’: Turkey in Shock over Journalists’ Arrest,” 
    The Guardian, (July 30, 2016), retrieved from
  14. “Turkish Economy Grows by 2.9 pct in 2016, Dodges Recession,” Daily Sabah, (March 31, 2017), retrieved from
  15. David Dolan and Daren Butler, “In Double Whammy for Turkey, Fitch Cuts to Junk after S&P Slashes Outlook,” Reuters Business News, (January 27, 2017) retrieved from

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