20 May 2015 / By Charter 97
A big delegation of journalists of independent media, including the leadership of the Belarusian Journalist Association, as well as representatives of the Information Ministry of the Journalism faculty of the Belarusian State University, journalists of state-run media, are taking part in the conference preceding the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga, Radio Svaboda informs.
Addressing the participants of the forum, Ināra Mūrniece, the speaker of the Saeima (Latvian Parliament) stated that the situation in the countries of the Eastern Partnership had changed greatly since 2009, when that initiative of the European Union was launched.
“Dramatic changes have happened in the region because of Russia’s aggression in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine… Invasion in our informational space by the Kremlin is happening in the sphere of mass media. It is not a war, but hostile actions close to war.”
Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, has also stated that the situation in the Eastern Partnership countries had deteriorated because of the Russian aggression. Over the previous year Mr. Muižnieks had personally visited all the countries of the Partnership with the exception of Belarus, which is not a member of the Council of Europe still.
“I hope that in the near future I would have an opportunity to visit Belarus as a full-fledged member of the Council of Europe,” Mr. Muižnieks said.
As said by him, the previous year was bad for mass media in a number of countries of the partnership, in particular, he expressed deep concern over the evens in Donbas, Crimea, murders of journalists, the ban on Crimean Tatar mass media by the occupational Russian authorities.
“Mass media were first victims of conflicts, and they are becoming instruments of propaganda, pawns in political games. But a response to any propaganda should be not a counterpropaganda, but freedom of mass media, pluralism of opinions, objective journalism,” Mr. Muižnieks said.
Dunja Mijatović, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, named the three countries of the Eastern Partnership where freedom of the media is under threat: Belarus, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
“Journalists in Belarus are constantly arrested for their reportages only… There should be no cooperation with the countries where human rights are violated,” Dunja Mijatović urged.
The first Eastern Partnership Media Conference is dedicated to the role of mass media in this initiative of the European Union. According to experts, who made speeches during the conference, the key problems for Belarus remain attempts of state regulation of Internet and black lists of websites.