ANKARA -Officials from the Danish State Prosecutor's Office and the Copenhagen police were in Ankara on Thursday and Friday as part of an ongoing investigation into the broadcasts of Roj TV, Denmark's ambassador to Turkey confirmed yesterday.
The visit comes after a recent telephone conversation between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Danish counterpart, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who was openly informed of Ankara's opposition to his prospective candidacy as the next NATO chief.
In order to be named NATO secretary-general at a summit to be held April 3 and 4 in Strasbourg and Baden, the Danish prime minister has to win Turkish support, as the alliance's leadership positions are filled by consensus among the 26-nation military pact.
Denmark's refusal to revoke Roj TV's license is a source of concern for Ankara, and the Danish prosecutors' arrival led to speculations that Rasmussen was backing away on Roj TV in order to secure his NATO bid. The prosecutors' visit was "pre-planned," Danish Ambassador to Ankara Jesper Vahr told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, without elaborating. This marks the second visit by the prosecutors, who first held talks with Turkish officials in April last year.
Frustrated by the broadcasts from Denmark, Turkey has worked through diplomatic channels since 2004 to obtain closure of Roj TV. Denmark says an investigation is still underway and the judiciary will make the final decision on the TV station's fate. Diplomatic sources said Turkish officials provided more documentation a couple of weeks ago that was fully in accordance with what Danish authorities had requested.
Any decision appears likely to take some time amid the ongoing investigation, but a major step by Denmark to revoke Roj TV's license would depend on the quality of the evidence provided by the Turkish side, according to diplomatic sources. In Denmark, the prosecutor generally needs to have non-circumstantial evidence and the confidence that a conviction can be attained before filing a press-related case. The sources said Denmark was keen to investigate the matter, but that prosecutors would have the final say on whether or not to proceed to open a case against Roj TV broadcasts for violating Danish law.
Ankara's objection to the Danish leader taking the prestigious NATO seat is also based on his refusal to apologize for a 2006 uproar over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. In a televised interview over the weekend, Erdoğan explicitly said some leaders of Muslim states called to ask him to block Rasmussen's NATO bid. Erdoğan said he told Rasmussen he would not contradict his party's principles. Rasmussen will be in Istanbul next week to attend the U.N.-sponsored Alliance of Civilizations summit on April 6 and 7.