BRUSSELS – The European Union cannot “stay indifferent” to the deteriorating media freedom situation in Turkey, as the freedom of speech is essential for the development process of any culture, European Council President Donald Tusk said.

“We all know how important is the freedom of speech and expression, one of the fundamental human rights. Without it there cannot be healthy development process of any culture, of any society. I am saying all this because we cannot stay indifferent to…what is now happening in Turkey,” Tusk said at a press conference following the EU-Turkey summit.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in turn said that nobody could slam Turkey for the lack of media freedom, as the country “did not do any harm” to the issues of freedom of the press.

On Friday, a Turkish court ordered the Feza Media Group, which includes opposition newspaper Zaman, Today’s Zaman daily and the Cihan news agency, to be placed under the management of government trustees.

Online and physical access to the news services and publications was subsequently cut after the government takeover.

The decision led to mass riots in the largest Turkish city of Istanbul. Turkish police used tear gas, water cannons and plastic bullets to disperse the protesters over the weekend.