664th Meeting of the Permanent CouncilMr. Chairman,
Today, on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day is observed around the world. We recall those journalists and other media professionals who have sacrificed their lives or their liberty or suffered serious injuries in their efforts to present news and comment to the public at large. In particular we recall those attacks on free and independent media which are all too frequent in the OSCE area, such as the brutal assassination of Anna Politkovskaya, posthumous recipient of this year’s UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.
The European Union has always made it clear that it regards the freedom and independence of the media as a cornerstone of democratic society and a vital component in the protection of all other freedoms and liberties. We are conscious that threats to media freedom exist throughout the OSCE area and that even in well established democracies such threats constantly appear in ever changing guises. It is for this reason that we consistently support the work of the Representative on Freedom of the Media and welcome the fact that his remit is exercised in all participating states. Just yesterday, in Brussels, the Representative presented the results of a survey of participating States’ legislation and practices on public access to information, classification of state secrets and protection of journalists’ sources. The results of this survey provide food for thought for many, if not all, of us and deserve careful study and consideration.
The EU will continue to raise questions of media freedom and the safety of journalists in the Permanent Council and other fora of the OSCE. The level of freedom enjoyed by the media is a factor in our relations with other States and is a legitimate criterion by which to judge the state of democracy in any country. The perception that those who attack journalists do so with impunity is very damaging to the international standing of any State. We call on all participating States to join with us on this day in reflecting on past sacrifices and in considering how to ensure that the media can operate in freedom and safety in all our countries.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia, EFTA countries Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.