26 January 2023, Thursday Ankara, TURKEY

Derya Yanık, Minister of Family and Social Services, Met with Ankara Representatives of Press Organizations

Our Minister of Family and Social Services Derya Yanık stated that peer bullying is a subject they are working on and said, "One of the topics we will talk about at the Children's Council, which we will hold for the first time in Türkiye, is peer bullying. But without waiting the council, our friends have already started working. We are trying to raise awareness about this. We are working on how we can carry out the process together with our Ministry of National Education. We will announce the results of our work on this in the coming period."

Minister Derya Yanık met with the Ankara representatives of newspapers and televisions. Providing information about the activities of the Ministry and answering the questions of journalists, Minister Yanık stated that they work separately on many topics on family, women and children.

On the question of how the change in the demographic structure of Türkiye and the decrease in the population growth rate will give Türkiye an appearance in the medium and long term, Yanık said that the main reason for the occurrence of some conditions as a result of ageing is the prolongation of life. Pointing out that the average life expectancy is 78 in Türkiye now, Yanık pointed out that 20-30 years ago, 78 was seen as a very advanced age. Indicating that the effects of ageing naturally become more visible as the life span gets longer, Yanık said, "First, the life expectancy is extended and the elderly population is increasing. Secondly, the fertility rate is low. Compared to 50 years ago, we have turned from a demographic where fertility is very high, life expectancy is short, and therefore the young population is always higher, to a demographic where life expectancy is prolonged but fertility declines. The ageing rate that continental Europe has reached in 100-125 years will be completed in 25 years in our country. Because we were faced with a rough birth control practice in the 1980s."

Pointing out that the fertility rate in Türkiye is currently 1.7, Minister Yanık emphasized that when this rate drops below 1.9, the chance of rejection disappears. Pointing out that there are two things to be done for this reason, Yanık said: "The first is active ageing, that is, older persons continue to produce until the end of their lives. I do not mean in terms of employment, they should have the ability to sustain their own lives and have the opportunity to participate in social life. We are working very hard for this. Secondly, we need to raise our child population very well so that we can maintain social continuity and production power."

Reminding that Türkiye's being a country of immigration would lead to an undesirable demographic change, Minister Yanık said that a part of the refugee population began to return.

"We support 160 thousand children with their families"

Emphasizing that as the government, they put the family at the centre of social services, Yanık said, "Let's say that if a child needs to be taken under state protection only because of poverty, we say 'no, let the child stay with his/her parents'. If there is no other reason, if there is no violence, let's provide social and economic support to children and let them stay with their parents. Currently, we provide social and economic support to nearly 160,000 children which means we support 160,000 children with their families."

"There should be a common attitude about morning shows"

Minister Derya Yanık, when asked what steps they took to eliminate the disturbing images appearing in morning shows, reminded that they held a workshop with RTÜK in June 2021. Pointing out that some issues cannot be resolved only with laws and prohibitions, Yanık emphasized that there should be a common attitude on this issue. Stating that RTÜK is an institution that imposes sanctions, but this can be a deterrent up to a point, Yanık made the following assessments:

“Let all channels cancel these shows. Therefore, when everyone gives up, the pool in the middle will remain the same. You banned it, increased the penalties, something else is found. The rule that people follow the easiest and most clearly is the rule that they set themselves. You can breach any rule. This can be violated even if it is the best legal text in the world. Therefore, first of all, I always stated that there should be an attitude on which everyone agrees on this issue."

Noting that they also have serious criticisms about morning shows and violent TV series, Minister Yanık reminded that they also talked about these. Indicating that they have joint works with RTÜK, and that they are working on practices aimed at supporting and encouraging family-friendly productions in this context, Yanık said, "As of the past months, we have also established relevant commissions to support family-friendly productions, encourage and highlight them."

"Our nursing homes have the capacity to meet the needs"

When asked about the health services in nursing homes, Minister Yanık explained that they are trying to keep all nursing homes at the same standard. Emphasizing that nursing homes are not places where abandoned people who are protected by the state stay, Yanık said that those who want a more social and active environment go to nursing homes. Yanık said: "Currently, our nursing home capacity is at the point where it will meet the need across Türkiye in case of demand." Indicating that they do not have the opportunity to provide a physician to every institution, Yanık said that they are working with the Ministry of Health on this issue and that formulas such as visits on certain days of the week or contact with family medicine are emphasized for groups that need to receive health care faster. Yanık said: "We will provide our health support more effectively than ever before. We are working together on how we can improve the problems we encounter by sharing them with the Ministry of Health. We have taken quite a long distance."

On a question about social assistance, Yanık said that they aimed to give the citizens confidence that "if they need support at any point in their life until they die, the state is there". Yanık said: "Our main point of view regarding social assistance is to stand by the citizens at every point where they need the support of the state. There is a total value produced, and we think that the citizens who reach it less should be supported. In other words, the basis of our social assistance is only poverty, not only feeding, but vice versa." Pointing out that one of the last social assistance they have taken into service is to cover the transportation expenses of the university students who are the beneficiaries of social assistance, Yanık said: "There are successful children, let's support them. Let the children feel that trust.  Look, we even included education areas abroad in this program. A beneficiary family may have a very bright, very successful child. We say that as the state, we are with you when you do this. Maybe one person will come out, maybe ten, it doesn't matter. But when it comes out we will support it. Let those kids feel that trust."

"We want to increase the length of time the children of Romany families receive education"

Pointing out that one of the most fundamental issues they encounter in their work in the Romany region is the need for shelter, Minister Yanık reminded that they started a housing project with the Ministry of Environment, Urbanisation and Climate Change. Indicating that they will afford a part of this project from the Social Assistance as the Ministry, Yanık stated that they will open social solidarity centres in places where most of the Romany people reside. Minister Yanik stated that they aim to increase the length of time children of Romany families receive education.

“There are very clear regulations in the Constitution regarding the protection of the family”

When asked about the family-related provisions of the constitutional amendment proposal discussed in the Parliament, Minister Derya Yanık said that there are very clear regulations regarding the protection of the family both in the law and in the Constitution. Stating that certain sensitivities, especially about young people and family values, have encountered a "lifestyle" reserve for a long time, Minister Yanık said that there are many topics that fall victim to lifestyle debates.

Expressing that the "individual freedom" part in the homosexuality debates is something else, the part that affects the social life is something else, Minister Yanık said, "Our gay citizens are also our citizens. It is very clear. It is the state's responsibility to protect their rights, to protect their right to life, and you cannot compromise on this. But on the other hand, nobody should expect us to normalize homosexuality and accept homosexuality as if it were no problem in the public sphere. Because they are two very different things. So let's draw that limit. Let's talk after that."

Indicating that the marriage union, not the family, is included in the regulation regarding the constitutional amendment, Yanık said, "Marriage union consists of men and women, why did we want to write this in the Constitution? Here, we wanted to put forward a stance, our stance on the issue in a clearer and sharper way. In other words, we wanted to reveal our position at the constitutional level.”

"We work with the Ministry of National Education"

When asked about the Ministry's work on peer bullying, Minister Yanık stated that this issue is one of the most important topics on the agenda. Underlining that peer bullying is an issue they have heard frequently recently, Yanık made the following assessments:

“One of the topics we will talk about at the Children's Council, which we will hold for the first time in Türkiye, is peer bullying. But without waiting the council, our friends have already started working. We are trying to raise awareness about this. We are working on how we can carry out the process together with our Ministry of National Education. We will announce the results of our work on this in the coming period."

“Our Family Support Program is an extremely flexible program”

Yanık answering the question of "Are you considering prolonging the Family Support Program?" said: "Our Family Support Program is an extremely flexible program anyway. Therefore, as long as needed, it can be prolonged, generalised, and scope changes can be made. As we determine the need with the data from the field, we update and renew our support program accordingly.”