Istanbul, Oct 28 () - Daily Hürriyet has expressed its serious concerns regarding freedom of the press, as well as the right to property and free enterprise, in an editorial Oct. 28 following a move to seize control of Koza İpek Holding, which has interests in the media and other sectors.
Writing in an editorial that was published on Oct. 28, daily Hürriyet said:
The appointment of a caretaker to one of the renowned holding groups of Turkey and the seizure of 22 of its companies on claims of support for terrorism and irregularities in various procedures will go down in history as a move that heralds very serious problems in terms of the future of democracy, the state of law and the economy in the country.
We can evaluate this decision by the Ankara 5th Criminal Court of Peace following a demand by a prosecutor in a multidimensional manner.
The first angle directly regards the right to property. Respect for the right to property is foremost in democratic administrations. The protection of the right to property is also a basic prerequisite to ensure that citizens exercise confidence in their country and state authorities.
Unfortunately, the move to take over the Koza İpek Group on Oct. 26 violated this universal right.
Another dimension of the issue that is closely linked to the right to property concerns the right to free enterprise.
The development of the free market in a country is tied to the commercial activities and investments of entrepreneurs whose property rights are guaranteed, fueling trust in the judicial system. Likewise, the freedom of enterprise is under constitutional guarantee in our country.
The 48th Article of the Constitution emphasizes that "the establishment of enterprises is free" and that “the state shall take measures to ensure that private enterprises operate” securely.
Under such conditions, the state’s seizure of the management of a holding will undoubtedly have a persuasive effect on the environment of investment both inside the country and for those abroad. From this perspective, the Oct. 26 move against Koza İpek constitutes an important breaking point in the country in terms of the freedom to free enterprise.
The fact that the holding is also active in the media brings the issue into the field of the freedom of press and expression. The newspapers and television channels of the group are known for their oppositional stance against the government. Silencing these media by appointing trustees will also damage press freedom, the variety of ideas in the media and the multitude of voices in the country. The fact that the move comes just five days before the general elections creates uncertainty as to whether the elections will occur in a just environment.
Another problematic point is that the decision, which resulted in a heavy-handed intervention, was made possible by just a single judge following the demand of just one prosecutor, and without any defense.
A legal regulation last year granted large judicial discretion to criminal judges of peace. What would be more just judicially would be to divest just a single judge of the power to decide on such cases and hand it to an experienced committee that would also supervise the right to defend.
In all, a situation has emerged that does not comply with the rules and needs of the international system, of which Turkey is also a component. Turkey is a full candidate country to the European Union, and a full member of international institutions like the European Council, NATO, the OSCE and the OECD. In this framework, Turkey needs to act according to its responsibilities.
The moves that have targeted the Koza İpek group immediately before the G-20 summit, where the leaders of the world’s most developed 20 economies will meet, is especially thought-provoking. In a country where the right to property is debatable, free enterprise owners are terrorized and press freedom is regressing, it is inevitable that its hospitality for the G-20 summit will be overshadowed.