Answer given by Mr Füle on behalf of the Commission
The EU indicated its concerns as regards the frequent and lengthy closure of websites in Turkey, during the latest EU‑Turkey Association Council on 10 May 2010.
The Commission is fully aware of the cases referred to, and has raised them with the Turkish authorities in the framework of its regular technical dialogue on the basis of the Copenhagen political criteria. These cases — including the banning of the YouTube Website since May 2008 — are a matter of concern as regards respect for freedom of expression in Turkey. Between March 2007 and June 2008, Turkish courts issued 17 blocking orders with regard to YouTube. Ankara’s first Criminal Court of Peace issued the final blocking order on 5 May 2008. This last blocking order is still in force.
Many people in Turkey have circumvented the ban on YouTube by using different Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. The Telecommunication Authority identified these addresses further to a request of the Ankara Prosecutor's office. The court upheld the request of the prosecutor for all 44 IP addresses on the grounds that the violation of the law continues on the YouTube website. Google too is affected by the Court ruling as it has the ownership of some of the banned IP addresses further to a change to its technical infrastructure. This new development illustrates the need to revise Law No 5651 on Regulation of Means of Combating Certain Crimes Committed via Internet, which limits freedom of expression and restricts citizens' right to access information. The Commission will continue to follow this issue and report on any further developments in the November 2010 Progress Report on Turkey.
Turkey continues to sufficiently fulfil the Copenhagen political criteria. The Commission therefore considers that in the present circumstances there is no ground for a suspension of the negotiations with Turkey.