EU Commissioner: Turkey’s Twitter ban raises concerns about the country’s “commitment to European values”

Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, has released a statement in connection with the ban of Twitter in Turkey, questioning the nation’s “stated commitment to European values and standards”.

As you may have heard, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has blocked Twitter in the country – or at least tried to.

The politician has threatened to “wipe out” the service after it was used to leak wiretapped recordings and documents purportedly showing evidence of corruption among his inner circle, severely hurting the government’s reputation ahead of local elections.

Aside from attracting negative attention from Internet users – and world leaders – from across the globe, it seems like the measure hasn’t had the slightest effect either: the number of tweets by users in Turkey has not dropped since access to Twitter was banned, statistics have shown, and hashtags like #TurkeyBlockedTwitter became trending topics.

Here’s the full statement from Commissioner Füle (emphasis ours):

“The ban on the social platform in Turkey raises grave concerns and casts doubt on Turkey’s stated commitment to European values and standards.

Freedom of expression, a fundamental right in any democratic society, includes the right to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority.

Citizens must be free to communicate and choose freely the means to do it. This obviously includes access to the internet.

Open debate promotes transparency and accountability and ultimately reinforces democracy; such debate needs to be strengthened everywhere, including in Turkey.”

European Commission VP Neelie Kroes has also publicly critized Erdogan’s decision, repeatedly positing on Twitter that the Twitter ban in Turkey is “groundless, pointless and cowardly”.

Turkey was officially recognised as a candidate for full European Union membership at the tail end of the previous millennium, at the Helsinki summit of the European Council.

Negotiations were started back in October 2005 and are ongoing, but Turkey’s membership bid has become a major controversy of the ongoing enlargement of the EU.

The Twitter ban will likely complicate matters further.

Featured image credit: lculig / Shutterstock

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