Baku, Azerbaijan, April 8
By Rufiz Hafizoglu - Trend:
Turkish municipal elections overshadowed other events, such as the ban of social media networks, although they were no less important.
Turkey imposed bans on Twitter on March 21 and on YouTube on March 27. A ban on Facebook was not also ruled out.
The ban on social networks prior to the municipal elections was also regarded as a ban on freedom of expression in the country and was expected to negatively affect the number of votes cast for the ruling party, but this did not happen.
The blocking of Twitter was perceived the same way, but Turkish officials said it was done within the law.
Turkish officials said in their statements that Twitter uses double standards with regard to Turkey. It was also pointed out that two years ago Twitter, abiding the decision of the French court, removed over 350,000 tweets aimed at inciting anti-Semitism in the country, but at the same time it refused to take into account the decisions of the Turkish courts.
Then, under the decision of Turkish Constitutional Court the ban on access to Twitter was lifted.
The country's most prominent figure - the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan assessed the abolition of the Twitter ban as a step contrary to the national interests.
The situation regarding the ban on YouTube is different. An audio recording of a secret meeting on the Syria situation was uploaded on YouTube on March 27. The meeting was attended by Turkish National Intelligence Service Head Hakan Fidan, Deputy Chief of General Staff Yasar Guler, Deputy Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Following the upload of the audio recording the access to YouTube was blocked in Turkey.
Here the matter rests in a small enclave on Syrian territory, about 30 km from the country's border with Turkey. A funerary complex is located on an area of about one hectare on the shore of the Euphrates River. There is also a tomb with the remains of Suleiman Shah (1178-1227), the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Osman I. Under the Ankara Agreement of 1921, signed between Turkey and France, which at that time occupied Syria, the tomb is considered sovereign territory of Turkey. In 1946, after gaining independence from France, the Syrian authorities officially recognized Turkish sovereignty over the territory. Today the complex' territory is protected by about 30 Turkish soldiers.
During the discussions at the meeting of this issue the possibility was raised that Turkey should use attacks of the 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorist as a reason for a retaliatory military intervention in Syria.
But the spread of the audio recording on social networks received mixed reviews. Many political analysts assessed this as making changes to the agenda before the election, and other analysts considered this as a threat to Erdogan's government by forces outside.
No doubt that the Turkish authorities are well aware that it will not be possible to prevent the spread of audio recordings by means of a ban on YouTube.
That is why the bans on social networks in Turkey can be regarded as the country's self-defense mechanism.
But, on the other hand, we should not think that the spread of secret discussions on Syria in social networks will not affect Ankara's foreign policy.
Rufiz Hafizoglu is the head of the Arabic-language news service desk of the Trend Agency.
Translated by E.A.
Edited by C.N.