Exclusive: Interview with Remzi Ketenci on current political situation in Turkey
Director General of the first Kurdish satellite channel talks about Kurdish and Turkish relations
Ketenci says, “The word Kurdistan and Kurdish songs are allowed to be used freely in Turkey since Halil Turgut Özal's period”.
Ramzi Ketenci, Director General of the first 24/7 private Kurdish satellite channel, Dünya TV, talks about the current political and media relations between Turkey and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region. He sheds light on how to strengthen the bilateral relations between the two sides, especially between journalists.
Dünya TV is part of the Samanyolu Group, which has more than 10 TV channels, broadcasting their programs in Turkish, with the exception of Dünya TV which broadcasts their programs in Kurdish. Dünya TV mainly focuses on showing different aspects and dimensions of Kurdish habits, traditions as well as culture. The TV’s management board is intended to cover Kurdish cities out of Turkey, especially Kurdistan Region.
Ramzi Ketenci is an outstanding media figure in Turkey, and has been working in journalism for more than 20 years. In an exclusive interview, he talks about the changes that have happened in the field of journalism, and how the huge vacuum for Kurdish media outlets is being filled.
In the past, Turkish media outlets published baseless news about Turkey and Kurdistan relations, which created a huge gap for those who wanted to receive authentic information about Kurds, how do you assess the current media coverage?
Unfortunately, the relation between Turkey and Kurdistan was not that good in the past. The entire world is like a small village now, and someone from America knows what happens in Japan or Turkey or elsewhere in the world.
I do believe that the situation is now changed; neither Turkish media nor Kurdish can publish baseless reports. Day after day, democracy is going to be the real regnant in the region, and the bilateral relations between Turkish and Kurdish journalists and intellectuals is going to be strengthen than ever.
Social media is changing how news is reported. Once upon a time, it was entirely convenient to falsely report on Kurdish related issues, but now this is impossible. We are too interconnected through media outlets that any credible agency can not afford to report falsely on Kurdish issues without being heavily scrutinized, and even shunned in some instances.
Do you have plans to open an office in the Kurdish capital city of Erbil?
Almost three months has been past from the day we broadcast our programs in Nilsat and Turksat. Actually, we have been thus far producing several programs in Kurdistan Region. We aired the religious ceremonies which was held in honor and remembrance of Prophet Mohammed's birthday in the capital city of Erbil.
I would say that the management board of the channel should come to a decision to open an office in Kurdistan. And as such the answer will become clearer in the future.
Despite the ongoing tensions, and even violence between Turkey and Kurdistan, why do people still disagree with pronouncing the word “Kurdistan” in Turkey, or even acknowledging that Kurdistan does indeed exist?
The word Kurdistan and Kurdish songs are allowed to be used freely in Turkey since Halil Turgut Özal's, Turkish Prime Minister and the 8th President of the Republic of Turkey’s era. Those who deny pronouncing Kurdistan should accept the word as a real fact. The current Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has so far taken serious steps to normalize the situation, and opening the Kurdish satellite TRT6 is a considerable instance.
How many Kurdish channels are now broadcasting their programs in Turkey?
In fact, taking permission of a channel needs time. Dünya TV is the first private Kurdish 24/7 TV channel across Turkey.
What is your point of view regarding the latest international figures saying that freedom of expression has been damaged by the ongoing prosecution and incarceration of journalists and writers in Turkey?
I have over the past 20 years worked as a journalist, and never had been arrested because of my career. Those who have been arrested are perhaps affiliated with a special group or association. I would say that there might be some mistakes committed against journalists too.
Are there any kinds of censorship from Turkish government on your channel?
There is no censorship on our channel. And we have enjoyed this since the first day we broadcasted our programs. We have been working very independently, and we do organize our programs based on the (Turkey) constitution.
What is your opinion regarding the ongoing negotiations to resolve the Kurdish question?
Turkey is going through a very sensitive time. The changes are very rapid. I do believe that the question will be resolved sooner, if the external countries do not interfere.
Ramzi Ketenci, Director General of the first 24/7 private Kurdish satellite channel, Dünya TV.