Your Royal Highness,
Members of the Roosevelt Family,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, you have in front of you a tired person, tired of hoping Turkey will become one day a country fully enjoying democratic values.
This Freedom Award is not my first prize but it is certainly the one given in the most challenging and meaningful time of my career as a journalist.
After 10 years of negotiations for European Union membership, Turkey has unfortunately sacrificed judiciary reform process and destroyed the standards of rule of law, especially after ending the peace process with Kurdish political groups and the terrible Coup Attempt in July 2016.
The State of Emergency in effect for nearly two years in Turkey has allowed the authorities to eradicate what was left of pluralism, opening the way for a constitutional reform consolidating President Erdogan’s grip on the country.
Over the last four months, at least 62 journalists have been convicted to extremely harsh sentences and dozens of them remain in jail.
Therefore, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) marks Turkey, as “world’s biggest prison for professional journalists”. Because of a succession of mass trials targeting critical voices, Turkey occupies the 157. Rank out of 180 countries, in the RSF World Press Freedom Index.
This award is therefore for me a nice personal recognition of a long period of engagement. It will bring me strength needed in the next challenging process. I also wish it would bring resonance of Turkey’s courageous human rights movement, committed to fight for the safeguard of fundamental rights although exposed to unprecedented crackdown.
I would also like to express my sincere thanks to Reporters Without Borders friends, for supporting so dynamically my advocacy work.
Today, I am particularly happy to have beside me, my dear family who has shared since the very beginning of my career my challenges and my joy and did not hesitate to show sacrifice under difficult times. Obviously, I dedicate this prize to them.
Please let me finally express my deep gratitude to Roosevelt Four Freedoms Awards Committee for honoring me, to all persons and friends involved in this nice ceremony and those facilitated our stay in the Netherlands.
Before ending my speech, I would like to warmly congratulate Christiana Figueres, Paride Taban, Emmanuel de Merode and Urmila Chaudhary, also laureates of today’s prestigious awards, for their devotion and courage.