From October 11 to 18, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom organized an information program in Germany (Hamburg and Berlin) for Turkish journalists named “Freedom of media – legal, institutional and economic fundaments”.
Participants in this program were: Sevgi Akarçeşme (Zaman & Today’s Zaman), Yonca Poyraz Doğan (independent journalist), Ahu Özyurt (CNN Türk), Müjde Yazıcı (Milliyet), İpek Yezdani (Hürriyet), Lora Sarı (Agos) and Ayhan Aktar (Taraf and Bilgi University).
Three priority subjects were the basis of this program:
1. Journalism/structure/outlook/freedom of media
2. Foreign policy
3. Turkish community
Professor Dr. Steffen Burkhardt, Director of the International Media Center (Hamburg), was in charge of the introductory section of the seminar that lasted one day. Subjects such as laws and institutions of the German media and communication system were addressed, as well as the principles and structure of media freedom and self-control; media protagonists and the ombudsman concept; media independence mechanisms and contents in the digital transformation era. Through this crash course, broad and greatly informative, participants acquired a general overview on the German media history, structure and principles, which eventually proved to be a solid foundation for future program phases.
Based on this seminar, the delegation had meetings (in Hamburg) with stern.de and Spiegel editors; (in Berlin) with members of the metropolitan studio of the ARD channel and ZEIT newspaper, among others. Also with the German Association of Journalists, the German Newspaper Editors Federation and the German Journal Council.
Regarding the second subject, the delegation had the opportunity to have conversations with two members of the German Parliament: Özcan Mutlu from Alliance ‘90/The Greens and Matern Freiherr Marschall von Bieberstein (CDU). First of all, foreign policy topics were addressed, such as the relationship status between Turkey and the European Union, the civil war in Syria and the international coalition battle against IS.
Also, Turkey’s internal policy subjects were addressed, such as the increased restriction on free opinion and media, the allegations of corruption against members of the ACP government and –as a consequence– the massive lay-off of police officers, judges and district attorneys, etc.
Another meeting related with the second subject was carried out with Dr. Günther Seufert, Turkey expert of the Foundation for Politics and Science (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, SWP). After sharing summarized information on the structure and function of the SWP, the conversation focused on the Turkey/EU relationship and the future of the adhesion negotiations.
Conversations were held with the Turkish-German Center directorate (Berlin-Neukölln) regarding the third priority subject (Turkish community in Germany) and with Kamuran Sezer, Director of the futureorg Institute (Dortmund), an institute dedicated to applied, prospective and organizational research. On one hand, everyday and integration problems were addressed; on the other hand, issues concerning the political orientation of German citizens with immigrant (Turkish) background.
The visit to the FNF main office in Potsdam helped the delegation gain insights on the broad international activities of the Foundation. Turkish guests also showed great interest in the location and facilities of the Foundation’s headquarters.
The visiting program ended with a public round table, to which selective guests with priority interest in Turkey were invited. Time was insufficient and only the following subjects were addressed: “Freedom of the media in Turkey” and “Civil war in Syria – The Kurd issue in the IS”. Journalists faced competent questions asked by the guests.
The workshop started on Friday morning in the taxi. My driver – let’s call him Dragan for privacy reasons – embodied everything I knew about and experienced again in my second trip to Serbia: A dynamic country with a young population that makes do with the imperfect economic and political situation of their beautiful country. Besides driving his cab, Dragan also owns a small online media agency. We struck up a good coversation about content and learning management and I was very happy to give some tips.