October 28, 2015

TÜSİAD says Koza İpek takeover raises concerns over press freedom, arbitrariness

Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSİAD) released a statement on Wednesday after Turkish authorities appointed several trustees to replace the management of the İpek Koza Holding business, which houses media outlets, calling on the government to ease concerns over arbitrariness of the decision as well as press freedom.

In a written statement released hours after Turkish riot police stormed the headquarters of the holding’s media outlets that include Bugün TV, the flagship station that has emerged as a main platform for opposition politicians over recent months, and cut the broadcast, TÜSİAD said in a state of law, the states are also bound to laws just like citizens. “It is the most natural right of citizens to expect and demand the state respect laws. The society should be persuaded that the measures taken [in the İpek Koza probe] are proportionate and not arbitrary,” the statement said.

TÜSİAD also warned that doubts over the correctness of a judicial decision like appointing trustees for a company deals a severe blow to the business and investment environment in the country.

“On the other hand, in addition to concerns over the right to free enterprise, the fact that media outlets are also among the companies in question also sparks concerns over press freedom, considering recent attacks and interventions in the media. It is our fundamental expectation as the business world that the probes are conducted in a fast and transparent way that will not leave a place to arbitrariness,” the statement said.

The takeover of the management of Koza İpek Holding's 22 companies, including critical TV stations Bugün TV, Kanaltürk and two newspapers, comes just days before Turkey is set to have a repeat parliamentary election on Nov. 1. The move has intensified concerns about the deteriorating state of freedom of speech and of the media in Turkey.

Published on Today's Zaman, 28 October 2015, Wednesday