The newly elected mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu, lamented the arrests and prosecution of journalists in Turkey yesterday during a meeting with the International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom.

İmamoğlu met with an IPI delegation comprising IPI Turkey National Committee Chair Kadri Gürsel, Committee Vice Chair Emre Kızılkaya, IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi, IPI Director of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad, and IPI Press Freedom Programme Officer Renan Akyavas at his office in Istanbul on Tuesday to discuss support for independent journalism.

“Both journalists and the local administration have the responsibility to defend press freedom and improve the quality of journalism”, İmamoğlu said. “We know we have a responsibility to improve the quality of journalism as local administrations.”

The newly elected mayor of Turkey’s commercial capital said he acknowledges the fact that administering a city of 16 million people is a great responsibility and the administration cannot ignore press freedom if it has to deliver on its promises.

“We are ready to cooperate with reputable institutions like IPI to improve journalism. We as a municipality can develop ideas using the experience and expertise of IPI in this field”, İmamoğlu said.

Earlier, Gürsel, Kızılkaya and Trionfi briefed the mayor about a report released on Tuesday by IPI that offers concrete proposals to strengthen and promote quality journalism in Turkey, especially in relation to young journalists. Several ideas were discussed during the hour-long meeting with İmamoğlu, who assured the delegation that his administration will endeavour to operationalize initiatives that support quality journalism and defend press freedom.

“We are very grateful for Mayor İmamoğlu’s time and the interest he showed in working together to promote press freedom and create the conditions necessary for independent journalism to exist in Turkey”, Gürsel said. “We are glad to see the authorities’ commitment to change and to allowing journalists to do their work in support of democracy.”