NEW LEGISLATION TO HELP STRUGGLING MINORITY NEWSPAPERS GOES INTO FORCE

Today's Zaman
Feb 28 2012
Turkey

A recent legislative change enabling newspapers run by Turkey's
non-Muslim minority groups, which fall under the category of minority
according to a legal definition in the Lausanne Treaty of 1924,
to publish official notices became effective on Tuesday.

The amendment was published in the Official Gazette on Tuesday.

Minority newspapers will have to apply in writing to be able to publish
official announcements in their newspapers. The new law is effective as
of Feb. 28, but there are some articles that will go into force later.

Ara Kocunyan, editor-in-chief of the Jamanak newspaper, an Armenian
weekly, said although he hadn't seen the full text of the new
legislation, he saw it as a positive development. "We've had meetings
with the Press Bulletin Authority (BİK) about this. We are grateful
that legislative changes have been made as promised. We appreciate
the positive steps the government has taken."

In August BİK pledged TL 250,000 from a special fund to be given to
minority newspapers as a temporary solution to help them stay afloat
prior to the amendment that was published in the Official Gazette
on Tuesday. Previously, newspapers run by minorities were prohibited
from publishing official advertisements.

The meeting Kocunyan mentioned was held with executive officials from
BİK in July of last year with representatives of minority newspapers.

The suggestion to support newspapers published by Greek, Armenian
and Jewish minorities in Turkey by allowing them to publish official
announcements came out of that meeting. The recent amendment is a
product of that suggestion.

Most minority newspapers published in Turkey have been at a
disadvantage in terms of state support and have not been represented
as fully as other newspapers by journalist organizations.

Last year, the editor-in-chief of Apoyevmatini announced that he would
have to shut down the newspaper because of financial problems. The
daily has been in publication since 1925 and currently has a
circulation of 600. He couldn't be reached for comment on Tuesday.

When news of its potential closure started circulating in the media,
campaigns were launched by university students to save the newspaper.

BİK got involved in the situation last summer to support minority
newspapers.