Turkey, World

Digitalization must not fuel inequity: Turkish leader

Turkish President Erdogan delivers opening remarks for 4th TRT World Forum held virtually due to coronavirus pandemic

Merve Aydogan and Sena Guler   | 01.12.2020
Digitalization must not fuel inequity: Turkish leader

ANKARA

Turkey's president on Tuesday warned of the dangers of unchecked digitalization wreaking greater injustice.

"As digitalization expands the field of freedom, it should not lead to new inequalities, injustices, and marginalization," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in opening remarks to the fourth TRT World Forum, held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This year's forum, held by state broadcaster TRT's English-language service, carries the theme "Shifting Dynamics: The International Order in a Post-Pandemic World."

Noting that the two-day forum will focus on subjects from digitalization to technology, trade to Syria, and Yemen to clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh (Upper Karabakh), Erdogan wished the event all success.

If digitization is "an area with no control, open to arbitrariness and outside of the law," this could lead to fascism, Erdogan warned.

As an example, he said the rising use of social media platforms in recent years has led to serious problems.

"A completely uncontrolled area is generated in the name of unlimited freedom, leading to new victimizations," he said.

He highlighted that usually the victims cannot find an authority to hear their complaints, nor a legal channel to seek their rights.


Turkish social media law

Turkey tackled this problem with a new law on social media Turkey passed this July, said Erdogan.

The bill sets a formal definition of social media providers and aims to designate a responsible representative for investigations and legal proceedings relating to offenses.

It also requires major foreign-based social media platforms to have a designated representative in Turkey.

Erdogan said the bill aims to especially protect children, who are more vulnerable than adults.


Double standards

Erdogan also said that "Turkey's achievements in the international arena, the great changes in the country, are not fairly presented globally."

"In many cases, our achievements are even dismissed or distorted," he added.

Decrying the double standards under which members of the terrorist YPG/PKK who shed the blood of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Syria adorn the covers of "prestigious" Western magazines, Erdogan said those who try to lecture Turkey on press freedom now act as the "three monkeys" of Europe, refusing to recognize the PKK's evil acts.

On a recently proposed French security law, under fire for violating press freedom and hindering efforts to stop police brutality, Erdogan criticized the proposal, saying: "International media kept silent in the face of France's blockade on the media." 

"They did not utter a single critical sentence regarding the French state organs' media blockade," he said.

France's ruling party on Monday withdrew the proposed law, saying the controversial sections would be reworked. 

Erdogan blasted a "similar double standard over Israeli security forces' actions against Palestinians, which are like state terrorism."

When Israeli soldiers tried to forcibly pull an injured Palestinian out of a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance in the occupied West Bank, as captured by Anadolu Agency photographers, the international media paid the incident no notice, he said.

"When media outlets carry the banner of Islamophobia and xenophobia, this is shameful," Erdogan said, likely referring to much-criticized cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published by a French magazine.

"Ugly acts carried out under the guise of freedom of the press serve to poison the will to coexist among people of different religions and cultures. If discourteous attitudes shown under the guise of press freedom are not stopped, both Europe and all of humanity will suffer," he warned.

Erdogan also stressed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on every area of life, saying that the media, politics, and international relations are also being affected by the virus.


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