Turkey's state advertising body leaves minority papers hanging by not renewing aid
Turkey's Press Advertisement Agency (BİK) didn't renew aid to minority papers for 2021, leaving the small publications wondering about their finances. A BİK official said that the decision to not renew aid was a result of the agency's internal finances.
Turkey's Press Advertisement Agency (BİK) didn't renew the regularly allocated aid to minority newspapers for 2021, rendering the future of the businesses unknown as their audiences consist of narrow niches, news portal Bianet reported on Dec. 2.
BİK Director of Coordination Mehmet Çelik claimed that this aid had been allocated to minority publications since 2011, but that the institution didn't make a profit during the pandemic, and failed to reserve the funds for minority papers.
"BİK didn't have net profits, so they couldn't offer aid to [minority] papers. But that doesn't mean they won't offer aid this year, a ruling could be made in the February meeting."
Mihail Vasiliadis, the editor-in-chief of Apoyevmatini, the paper for Turkey's Greek-Orthodox community, said that the words "state aid" to non-Muslim communities' papers were initially a little intimidating for Ankara.
"They started handing out the aid on the condition that we pampered them. Every year, we would call and ask for the aid, ask again, call again, insist... It was like this every year."
Minority papers struggled during the pandemic, like all other businesses, Vasiliadis said, which is why they asked BİK for the aid earlier on in the year, with no success.
"Now they're saying it won't be given out at all this year. We just don't want to be left in limbo. If they'll give the aid, let us know, and if not, let us know. So that we can budget accordingly."
Şalom editor-in-chief İvo Molinas noted that the state's aid was a small amount that didn't necessarily make a huge difference in minority papers' budgets, but that it was more valuable for the goodwill it held.
"They were a show of good intentions, and it reconciled us a little," Molinas said.
Ara Koçunyan, the editor-in-chief of Jamanak, a paper for Turkey's Armenian community, said that he hopes minority papers can continue to exist in Turkey in a reconciliatory and uniting role.