The Sabah Journalists Club, composed of journalists from the titular publication and its sister newspaper Daily Sabah, met their German counterparts in Berlin on Monday and traded views on European-Turkish ties ahead of a panel about the said relations after a foiled coup attempt in Turkey on July 15.
Since the foiled putsch attempt and the start of heightened counterterror operations last year, Turkey has complained about the lack of support from Europe in its lone fight against terrorist groups ranging from the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), blamed for the coup attempt, to the PKK, whose supporters are harbored by a number of European countries.
Albrecht Meier from Tagesspiegel, Der Spiegel editor Dieter Bednarz, Die Zeit's Turkey correspondent Michael Thumann and Michael Backfisch from Funke Medien joined Sabah columnists Fahrettin Altun, Mahmut Övür and Şelale Kadak, along with Daily Sabah Editor-in-Chief Serdar Karagöz and Daily Sabah columnist and former member of the European Parliament Ozan Ceyhun.
The journalists from the two countries discussed German-Turkish relations, counterterror operations, Turkey's planned switch to a new-presidential system and relations between Turkey and the European Union.
Karagöz spoke about Germany's lack of support for Turkey's counterterror fight, highlighting that it was the anti-terror campaign of Turkey protecting the borders of Europe in addition to Turkey's own borders.
Turkey's strained ties with the European Union have been dragging down accession talks that the country has struggled to advance for decades. Though the EU signed a deal with Turkey to curb the number of Syrian migrants coming from the country, EU officials have been reluctant to proceed with the deal's conditions, such as the removal of visas for Turks, citing human rights issues regarding the anti-terror campaign. The said campaign targets the PKK, which is recognized as a terrorist group by the European Union. Despite this designation of the PKK, its supporters enjoy freedom to hold rallies and collect funds for the terrorist group in Europe.
The event organized by the Sabah Columnists Club is the latest in a series of panels across the world organized by the Turkish newspaper that provides a platform against a campaign of disinformation in the West in the wake of the coup attempt. The columnists, accompanied by foreign lawmakers and experts, held panels at the British Parliament in November, in Washington in December and most recently in Brussels in December.
Monday's event brought together Turkish columnists, politicians in Berlin, as well as representatives of nongovernmental organizations, the business world and journalists. Mehmet Akarca, head of the state-run Directorate General of Press and Information (BYEGM) made a keynote speech at the panel. Serdar Karagöz served as the moderator of the panel, where Fahrettin Altun spoke about "the new parameters of Turkish foreign policy," while columnist Mahmut Övür discussed Turkey's anti-terror policy, and Şelale Kadak, an economy columnist, spoke about the economic relations between Turkey and Germany. Ozan Ceyhun spoke about "the latest state of Turkish-German relations."
The Sabah Columnists Club promotes itself as a platform for the private sector to take responsibility in a civic-society dialogue, and it is supported by the BYEGM and Turkish Airlines.