Türkiye'nin en iyi köşe yazarları en güzel köşe yazıları ile Hürriyet'te! Usta yazarlar ve gündemi değerlendiren köşe yazılarını takip edin.

Turkish and Greek students discuss media stereotypes

The municipal elections in Turkey on the 29th of March were seen as a turning point for the Erdogan government: a test of its popularity and a start of new domestic political discourse.

It had all the makes of a general election including a prolonged and aggressive campaign with political leaders getting on the throat of each other and the media, more polarized than ever, going for an all out often dirty war on the party leaders. The actual issues of local administration were hardly taken into account. Greece as well as 26 other members of the European Union is about to go to the polls in two weeks time to elect its 22 deputies to the European Parliament (two less than last time due to the expansion of the Union).

Greece’s approximately 9 million population is among 500 million Europeans who are going to elect the 736 members of their Parliament in Brussels making this the biggest ever transnational elections in history. Yet in Greece the elections of the 7th of June have little to do with the EU policies in Brussels; instead, a ruthless personalized campaign by the main political leaders, an increasingly polarized public opinion and a partisan press, provide all the elements for these polls to be seen as a rehearsal for general election; in other words, a crucial test for the popularity of the government.

Against most predictions, the municipal elections in Turkey showed the beginning of a downward trend in the popularity of the Erdogan government.

The Euro-elections on the 7th of June are expected to confirm the predictions of a dangerous decline in the popularity of Karamanlis government and perhaps launch a challenge to his leadership inside his party. On both occasions, the role of the media has been seen as a major factor of the electoral process.

And it was that very importance of the media on the elections of last March and coming June that this Seminar between fifteen Greek and equal number Turkish students from the Departments of Communications of Bilgi University, Istanbul and Panteion University, Athens, came to discuss. Under the moderation of Turkish and Greek professors the students presented papers which ranged from the "Society polarized Ğthe role of Political Islam in Turkey and the role of the Church in Greece" "Relations between Media and the Military in Turkey", to "Media Strategies of Politicians in Election Campaigns and Media coverage during the Municipal Elections in Turkey", "The media scene in Greece and the coverage of last municipal elections" etc.

A one day Seminar which brought together the students of both countries who presented, debated, argued upon and fought over issues that in many ways are common in the socio-political realities of their two countries; but at the same time it was an opportunity to see for themselves that there are also many societal, systemic and political differences which made them realize that simplistic analyses of Greek-Turkish affairs have done more harm than good.

They all agreed that a free and productive dialogue based on proper knowledge aiming at a contemporary civilized interaction has not been achieved yet between the two countries, in spite of the public proclamations for the opposite. Intentional or unintentional ignorance and a stereotypical approach to each other (either over hostile or over-friendly) still keeps the two societies apart and prevents the media of both countries to settle for an acceptable level of professionalism.

More than a decade of "earthquake diplomacy" we are still at the beginning.

But the Seminar in Bilgi University showed a way and a method; they way is to invest in the future by using young people and the method is to use them during their formative years of education but only adhering to the strict rules of an academic framework of "thesis-antithesis and synthesis", as one of the moderators of the discussion reminded us.

The Seminar "Political Communication and Media

Coverage of the Elections in Turkey and Greece" organized by the Communication departments of Istanbul Bilgi

University and Panteion University, Greece took place

on May 22-24, 2009 in Santral Campus, Istanbul