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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 June, 2004, 12:44 GMT 13:44 UK
Kurdish broadcasts perturb press
Turkish press graphic

The state broadcaster in Turkey, TRT, has begun transmitting short TV and radio programmes in several minority languages in order to fulfil European Union demands ahead of possible membership talks.

While the initial broadcasts on Monday were in Bosnian, the main focus of interest and comment in the Turkish press is on the programmes in the two main Kurdish dialects, which are set to follow in the coming days.

For years, broadcasting in Kurdish was banned and Turkey refused to acknowledge the Kurds as a separate ethnic group.

Legislation to allow broadcasting in Kurdish was passed almost two years ago, but only now has TRT started transmitting.

'Dangerous Kurdish'

The commentator Ali Bayramoglu, writing in the liberal, pro-Islamic Yeni Safak, takes a fairly negative view of the programmes.

Freedom cannot be realised by means of official broadcasts and language courses
Ali Bayramoglu in Yeni Safak

He accuses the Turkish authorities of trying to downgrade the broadcasts in Kurdish.

"In order not to prioritise the broadcast in Kurdish, [TRT has added] languages such as Arabic, Cherkez and Bosnian to the broadcasts," he writes.

Mr Bayramoglu is not convinced that the programmes are a marker of a new broadcasting climate in Turkey.

"Aside from the question of whether there is indeed a demand for Bosnian, freedom cannot be realised by means of official broadcasts and language courses."

Ahmet Kekec, also writing in Yeni Safak, is amused by what he sees as "a very brilliant invention" by the authorities.

"The broadcast does not include the label 'Kurdish'," he writes, "'Kormanji' is used instead."

"Kormanji, here, is used as a broader name for the two dialects of Kurdish. Thus, no Kurdish, but Kormanji."

"A very brilliant invention... Thus, we are protected from the dangerous implications of the word 'Kurdish'."

Positive step

The centrist daily Milliyet is more upbeat and believes the new 30-minute programmes "are generally viewed positively".

The regulation enables private radio and TV stations to broadcast as well, yet there have been no offers from them
Fikret Bila in Milliyet

The commentator Fikret Bila admits there will be critics, but he backs the state broadcaster for at least trying to satisfy EU demands.

"Those who find TRT inadequate should look to private enterprise," he advises.

"The regulation enables private radio and TV stations to broadcast as well, yet there have been no offers from them."

Mehmet Ali Birand, writing in the tabloid Posta, pleads for the broadcasts to be seen as a good first step.

"No one can be satisfied with weekly 30-minute programmes... [but] in future, broadcast hours will increase and other channels will be established."

"Turkey will very much normalise in the years ahead."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

Country profile: Turkey
18 May 04  |  Country profiles
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18 May 04  |  Europe
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07 May 04  |  Europe

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