On December 9 Human Rights Watch organization called the European Union to
press Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia for concrete progress on human rights.
The statement was released on the eve of December 12 meeting of the EU representatives
with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to
discuss Action Plans with these countries under European Neighborhood Policy.
In the opinion of Human Rights Watch Europe and Central Asia Director Holly
Cartner, “EU should only agree to action plans that set concrete benchmarks
and specific timelines for progress on human rights. And the EU must firmly
state the consequences if these countries fail to comply”.
In its description of the freedom of expression situation in Armenia, Human
Rights Watch notes: “Despite the emergence of significant independent and opposition
print media, the government continues to restrict full media freedom in the
country, including taking away the broadcasting frequencies of television channels
that air independent news coverage about Armenia.”
As to Azerbaijan, in the opinion of human rights organization, the authorities
of this country pressure the opposition and independent media outlets by limiting
their access to printing facilities and distribution networks, to official information,
by initiating defamation cases resulting in the imposition of crippling fines,
by restricting access to official information and by harassing journalists.
Although the media of another Armenian neighbor, Georgia, are relatively free,
they, Human Rights Watch stresses, have become less critical of the government,
and there are signs of increasing government influence on the media content.