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ANKARA Oct 14 Turkey's chief EU negotiator said
on Wednesday foreign authorities had no cause to intervene over
a record $3.3 billion tax fine imposed on Turkey's largest media
firm Dogan Yayin DYHOL.IS.
The EU executive had earlier voiced concern over treatment
of Dogan Yayin in a tax dispute that has raised doubts about
freedom of speech in the EU candidate country. Dogan newspapers
such as the best-selling Hurriyet have been strong critics of an
AK party government that commands a huge parliamentary majority.
"The tax fine imposed on the Dogan group is a matter for the
Turkish Finance Ministry, not foreign authorities, and if it
can't solve it, it is a matter for the Turkish judicial system,"
Turkey's Chief European Union negotiator Egemen Bagis told a
In its annual report on enlargement Brussels said Turkey
needed to step up political and economic reforms, improve the
rights of minorities, women and trade unions as well as
normalise relations with the Republic of Cyprus.
It also suggested the AK Party government might be treating
Dogan Yayin, which controls half of the Turkish private media
"We have serious concerns about tax fines for Dogan. I have
asked the Turkish authorities to treat this matter very
seriously," EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said.
NEW EMERGING ELITE
The state has in the recent past seized entire companies or
assets of prominent businessmen. In 2007, the ATV-Sabah media
group was seized for irregularities and sold for $1.1 billion.
Turkey's tax authority has rejected collateral provided by
Dogan Yayin to fight the tax fine, placing a preliminary
injunction on the sale of shares in three of its units.
Dogan Yayin has accused the government of singling it out
because of critical coverage of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's
government. AK denies the accusation.
Aydin Dogan has been accused of using his media outlet to
further his business interest and campaign against Erdogan, who
secularists in Turkey suspect harbours an Islamist agenda.
In recent years, the business landscape has seen a marked
change in Turkey with the emergence of a powerful conservative,
pro-AK Party elite that has challenged the dominance long
enjoyed by a secular business elite represented by families such
as Koc, Sabanci and Dogan.
(Reporting by Zerin Elci, writing by Daren Butler; editing by