Roj TV on the agenda during Turkish PM’s visit

Denmark launched a new trade strategy with Turkey this week but Roj TV’s broadcasting licence remains a nagging issue in the relations between the two countries

Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met with PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne) yesterday on an official visit to Denmark to mark a new trade strategy between the two countries.

Denmark wants to get more Danish companies involved in the rapidly-expanding Turkish market and increase exports by 50 percent in 2016 compared to 2011 levels.

But the trip also marked the first time Erdogan had been to Denmark since his visit in 2005 in which he refused to participate in a press conference because of the presence of Roj TV.

Turkey accuses Roj TV, which has operated out of Denmark since 2004, as acting as the mouth piece of the Kurdish separatist group the PKK, which has been designated as a terrorist organisation by both the US and the EU.

Denmark was slow to acquiesce to Turkey’s demand to shut down the channel, arguing that it did not break any Danish laws. In retaliation, Turkey threatened in 2009 to veto the selection of former Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the new Secretary-General of NATO.

Eventually in January 2012, Copenhagen City Court fined Roj TV 2.6 million kroner for promoting terrorism but allowed the channel to retain its broadcasting licence. In September 2012, the channel was suspended from broadcasting for two months starting for not co-operating with an investigation by the national TV and radio board, Radio- og tv-nævnet.

Thorning-Schmidt admitted after her meeting with Erdogan yesterday that Roj TV had been discussed.

“It’s understandable that the Turkish people cannot understand why an organisation like the PKK, which Denmark considers to be a terrorist organisation, can have permission to broadcast its views,” Thorning-Schmidt said after the meeting.

In an interview with Politiken newspaper coinciding with his visit, Erdogan said that Turkey was closely following the appeal against the January 2012 verdict that has been lodged in the Eastern High Court.

“The decision made by the Danish court on 10 January 2012 regarding Roj TV is incredibly important, but we are disappointed that the channel’s broadcasting licence wasn’t revoked,” Erdogan told Politiken. “We expect that the process will end with a verdict that is in line with international conventions and duties to combat terrorism.”

Erdogan added that Turkey wanted greater cooperation with the EU in its struggle to combat terrorism.

“Unfortunately we are not receiving the necessary support from Europe to fight terrorism" Erdogan said. "The EU countries that demand that Turkey pass reforms in order to conform to EU rules are apparently unaware that terrorism presents a serious hindrance to this reform process. As friends and neighbours, we have to under every circumstance fully co-operate in order to fight terrorism. Giving shelter to cells of terrorist organisations does not harmonise with the European criteria for democracy and transparency.”

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