YPC Weekly Newsletter

2005


ON WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY MEDIA CALLED ON TO TOLERANCE AND GOOD GOVERNANCE

On May 3 at the conference room of UN Office in Armenia “Media and Good Governance”
event was held in celebration of the World Press Freedom Day. The event was
organized by the UN Office in Armenia and Yerevan Press Club.

The President of Yerevan Press Club Boris Navasardian congratulated the event
participants on the World Press Freedom Day. The presentation of the UN Resident
Coordinator, UNDP Resident Representative Lise Grande was devoted to the Millennium
Development Goals, the report of the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan “In Larger
Freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all” and the tasks
faced by media. Representative of UN Public Information Department Valeri Tkatchouk
spoke about the role of media as the corner stone of information society. The
issue of tolerance in media was raised by the Chief Editor of “Azg” daily Hagop
Avedikian. The presentation of YPC President Boris Navasardian focused on access
to information as a fundamental human right.

In the press release issued by the UN Department of Public Information it was
noted that besides the traditional goals (assessment of press freedom worldwide,
media support, remembrance of journalists who lost their lives in exercise of
their profession, etc.), this year the World Press Freedom Day was also to focus
on the media’s role in “fanning the flames of tolerance”, that is, the prevention
of deliberate misuse of journalism to promote hate and intolerance in the society.

The UN Resident Coordinator, UNDP Resident Representative Lise Grande advertised
the competition for print and broadcast journalists, held by UN Office in Armenia
in cooperation with Yerevan Press Club. The competition winners will be announced
on July 18, 2005 during the Yerevan Press Club Annual Award Ceremony. (See
below for more details on “No One Left Behind” competition.)

At the event in UN the press release of Yerevan Press Club on World Press Freedom
Day was disseminated.

“It has been for 12 years already that the World Press Freedom Day is celebrated
under the United Nations auspices. The tradition to celebrate the day in Armenia
was started in 1996.

The theme for World Press Freedom Day this year is chosen to be “Media and
Good Governance”. Thus, the UN places particular emphasis on the role of media
– and the active public involvement it can channel – in good governance. This
concept stands for making people a part of the debate and decision-making on
the major problems faced by the country.

In case of Armenia such problems are several – the maximum democratization,
constitutional amendments, improvement of the electoral process and conductance
of free and democratic elections, peaceful resolution of Karabagh conflict.
In all these issues it is the media that must ensure the dialogue between the
citizens and the state, the effective use of the intellectual potential of the
society.

The participation of Armenia in several international programs is also becoming
important and relevant. These are the UN Millennium Development Goals, the Millennium
Challenge Account and the European Neighborhood Policy programs. These programs
open up new development prospects for the country, and in this the media role
is again indispensable.

Are the media of Armenia sufficiently free, influential and strong to contribute
to the good governance practices?

Similarly to the two previous years, in 2004 the reputable international organization
“Freedom House” assessed the Armenian press as not free. And if in 2003 of the
countries, with which we share the way taken, only Georgia was classed as partly
free, in 2004 this category was joined by Ukraine, too.

Undoubtedly, the reasons for this assessment are the numerous cases of violence
against media and journalists – and year 2004 was exceptional in this regard.
Those responsible for violence either stay unpunished, or the penalties applied
to them are inadequate to the offences committed. “A1+” TV company still remains
out of air, despite the protests voiced by numerous local and international
organizations. The two bodies, regulating the broadcast sphere, the National
Commission on Television and Radio and the Council of the Public TV and Radio
Company, are still supervised by the executive power and dependent on it, despite
the formal amendments in the law. This, in its turn, results in the dependence
of the broadcast media.

Congratulating all our colleagues on the World Press Freedom Day, we wish that
the dialogue of the competent state bodies, the civil society, international
structures and media professionals lead to elimination of all obstacles to the
freedom of media, thus ensuring the productive fulfillment of the social mission
of media”, YPC press release says.