Accreditation of international journalists a point of contention for Germany and Turkey
The German Foreign Ministry formally complained to the Turkish Ambassador in Berlin on Friday. The complaint revolved around the non-renewal of press card accreditations for international correspondents in the country. The majority of international journalists in Turkey have not so far received the renewed press card accreditations.
The foreign correspondents’ accreditation issue came in public spotlight after several journalists were barred entry on Friday to an international press conference. A press conference was held after the conclusion of the 3rd EU-Turkey High Level Economic Dialogue that took place in Istanbul between Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak and European Commission Vice President, Jyrki Katainen. The German government issued a formal protest after two leading German correspondents, one from ZDF TV channel and one from newspaper Tagesspiegel, were not allowed to attend the press conference. The German office of the international non-governmental organisation Reporters without Borders called Turkish authorities to stop restricting the independent operation of international journalists and media in the country.
Press card accreditation is the established bureaucratic framework in Turkey which permits foreign correspondents to seamlessly carry out their duties within the Turkish state. The Turkish government claimed that a switch from a parliamentary model to presidential democracy in the aftermath of 2018 elections has created bureaucratic hurdles which delayed the issuance of new press cards for international correspondents in the country.
Freedom of press has substantially decline in Turkey in recent years. Ankara has captured the 157 position out of 180 states in global rankings on press freedoms. In a recent report by Reporters without Borders, the organisation argued that more than 100 reporters remain imprisoned in Turkey. Turkey in essence has become the ‘world’s biggest prison for professional journalists’. In January 2019, an Istanbul Court incriminated a Deutsche Welle journalist, Pelin Unker, to serve 13 months imprisonment on defamation charges. The journalist had carried out an investigation on Paradise Papers records and discovered that the former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and his sons owned companies in offshore tax havens, such as Malta.