German government stands by freedom of expression

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Turkeys complaint about a satirical song German government stands by freedom of expression

Responding to Turkey’s complaint about a German satirical television programme, the German government has called to mind the principles of the freedom of expression and press freedom.

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“I think we can expect a partner nation of the European Union to share our common European values,” said Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Besides the freedom of expression and press freedom, those European values “of course include artistic freedom, insofar as we are talking about satire here,” Steinmeier added. Germany’s Ambassador to Turkey, Martin Erdmann, and State Secretary of the Federal Foreign Office Markus Erderer had expressed this opinion “in various places in Turkey, including during official talks,” the Foreign Minister said during his trip to Uzbekistan.

Ambassador Erdmann had previously been summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, where he made it clear that basic freedoms such as the freedom of expression and of the press were valuable commodities that we must all protect together.

Press freedom is non-negotiable

Press freedom is non-negotiable for the German government. That includes political satire, Deputy Government Spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said on Wednesday. Television programmes like the one Turkey is complaining about are “an integral part of Germany’s media landscape,” she added. In Germany, political satire is protected under press freedom and freedom of expression. The video that Turkey is criticising gave neither cause nor opportunity for the government to take action, Wirtz said.

Press freedom and the freedom of expression are an important part of the German government’s dialogue with other governments. The German Chancellor has repeatedly emphasised that she regularly addresses the issue of freedom of expression and of the press.

In an interview with the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung on 10 March Foreign Minister Steinmeier also spoke about press freedom: “We must openly discuss our understanding of civil rights and liberties with Turkey, as we are already doing. The opening up of new negotiating chapters provides a good opportunity for intensive discussions with Turkey on questions around the rule of law and the judiciary.”.

Article 5, paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Basic Law

(1) Every person shall have the right freely to express and disseminate his opinions in speech, writing and pictures, and to inform himself without hindrance from generally accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films shall be guaranteed. There shall be no censorship.
(2) These rights shall find their limits in the provisions of general law, in provisions for the protection of young persons, and in the right to personal honour.