OSCE media freedom representative encourages Armenian authorities to bolster media freedom

Concluding a two-day visit to Yerevan yesterday, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, welcomed the commitment of the Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to strengthen freedom of the media, and encouraged the authorities to undertake additional initiatives.

During his visit to Yerevan, in addition to meeting the Acting Prime Minister, Désir met with Acting Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, and Acting Justice Minister Artak Zeynalyan to discuss challenges to, and the promotion of, media freedom and other areas where the OSCE Representative may offer legal expertise and assistance.

“I welcome the commitment expressed by the authorities to strengthen media freedom as a cornerstone of democracy. This is especially important in the context of the country’s current political developments,” said Désir. “I encourage the government to vigorously promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists, and to consider steps to strengthen media pluralism, independence of the public broadcaster, transparency of media ownership and access to information.”

The Representative called on the authorities to prioritize the safety of journalists and to act against any threats and intimidation media workers may face. He underlined the importance of measures to further facilitate public access to information. In the meetings, Désir discussed the need for reforms that would guarantee the independence and accountability of public service media and of the National Commission on Television and Radio. He further stressed the necessity of ensuring that the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting will contribute to media pluralism.

The Representative also discussed the challenge of “fake news” and freedom of the media with the Acting Prime Minister.

“Armenia is a very important partner in the promotion of media freedom in the OSCE region. After the elections it will be important to see strong political will from the future government to protect and advance media freedom in the country,” said Désir. “My Office stands ready to work with all stakeholders and contribute with expert advice and recommendations in line with OSCE media freedom commitments and international standards.”

Désir also met with representatives of media and civil society organizations, including the Yerevan Press Club, the Media Initiatives Centre, the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, the Freedom of Information Center, the Public Journalism Club, the Armenian Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the MediaMax News Agency, the Eurasia Partnership Foundation, the Regional Studies Center, EVN Report, CivilNet and Hetq. These meetings offered the Representative the opportunity to hear a diversity of professional viewpoints on the media freedom situation in the country. In separate meetings, the Representative also met with the Deputy Human Rights Defender, Artyom Sedrakyan and the Director of Public TV of Armenia, Margarita Grigoryan.

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