Date: 21 July 2016, 17:20, READ:
There was a coup attempt against the Turkish government by a minority of soldiers a few days ago and it was prevented by Turkish people and law enforcement. This events was naturally at the center of media attention in Azerbaijan as well. Along with the news about attempted coup d’etat, our media outlets featured many speculations and theories and opinions about the incident. As ANS TV made several mistakes while covering this event, the National Television and Radio Council decided to suspend all of its activities for a month. Board member of Press Council Mushfig Elesgerli answered our questions regarding this decision.
- Professor Mushfig, what do you think about the stance of Azerbaijani media regarding the recent events in Turkey?
- As members of a same nation and ally state, Azerbaijani media approached the recent events in Turkey with a heavy heart. This is a very natural process. Because we are one nation and two states. The second interesting thing was the prompt and concise reaction of Azerbaijani officials. President Ilham Aliyev, his close aid Ali Hasanov, another president administration official Novruz Mammadov and Foreign Ministry reacted promptly to the events. Thus they give political and legal assessment of the events in Turkey and stated that it was a coup d’etat. This stance helped clarify the situation for the media. Our media gave huge coverage to the events in Turkey by both shedding light on the events and publicizing the views of political figures. They helped shape the public opinion. Unfortunately, there were some exceptions to this. ANS TV channel was one of these examples. This channel started sharing information about Turkey that would potentially create confusion in public opinion. We don’t know why they did it. As I said, some media outlets said the coup was staged or that government was helpless in the face of pressure from the army, etc. Luckily, relevant authorities interfered in time. An example was made out of ANS to other media outlets that should show sensitivity during such events.
-There are several different opinions about the suspension of ANS. As a media expert, what is your position?
- In Azerbaijani legislation including laws regarding media, counter-terrorism, as well as international conversations against terrorism, how terrorist should be treated is made very clear. For example, according to the paragraph 2, Article 10 of European Human Rights Convention, certain information can be restricted. These include coup d’etat, information that could cause chaos in society. There are many such examples in both local and international laws. All of these laws state that terrorism and terrorists shouldn’t be given a platform. Regardless of reasons behind it, if someone is a terrorist or supports terrorism, they shouldn’t be given tribune and be allowed to spread their ideas. Groups like ISIS and Taliban have been combated for years. But their leaders haven’t been given platform where they can express their views. ANS’s behavior during such a time was suspicious. Fetullah Gulen and his network have been designated as a terrorist organization by Turkish courts and an investigation has been opened. This person was also accused of attempting to overthrow the government in Turkey. So ANS giving platform to Fetullah Gulen is both unlawful and out of line with international practice.
- What should media pay attention during this kind of events that happen in Turkey or in places that are particularly interesting for Azerbaijani viewers?
-There is this opinion in international community that media serves two purposes. One of them is to share information that serves the people. The conflicts happening across the world, coups, wars are not in the interest of public and they create problems. During this time media should adopt a stance that does not cause chaos and threaten the stability. Media should be sensitive so that they don’t further escalate the situation, but rather help stabilize it.