Erdogan rejects criticism of clampdown on Turkish media
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan used a speech in Strasbourg on Wednesday to reject claims that media freedom is under threat in Turkey - and accused Europe in turn of regression on human rights issues, dpa reported.
Over 20 Turkish journalists are currently in custody or serving sentences. Media rights groups believe the cases against them are politically motivated.
Erdogan assured the parliamentary assembly of the 47-nation Council of Europe in Strasbourg that none had been detained for their journalistic activities but because some Turkish journalists "applaud and provoke coups."The Council of Europe is a pan-European human rights watchdog.
The council's Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland said the council would send a comission to Turkey to investigate the conditions under which the journalists were being held.Erdogan also used his address to take a dig at France, which, together with Germany, opposes Turkey becoming a member of the European Union.
A recent debate within French President Nicolas Sarkozy's party on secularism was seen by many French as an attempt to stigmatize Muslim immigrants.Erdogan, whose country also has a secular constitution, said the principle of secularism was starting to be used in Europe "for restricting freedoms."
He also blasted what he called the emergence of "racism, discrimination and intolerance" in Europe."We witness such phenomenon among mainstream political parties as they adopt populist stands to address general uncertainties and fears."
Erdogan called on European leaders "to display leadership to reverse (such) dangerous trends."