German ambassador in Ukraine: “People, who organized the scandal with the purpose of discredit of V. Mostovoy, discredited themselves and damaged the reputation of the state”
From the interview of Ditmar Schtudemann, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany in Ukraine to the weekly ”Dzerkalo tyzhnia” (7-13 June 2003)
During the years of independence Ukraine made a number of very important steps and achieved many positive results.
Yet, it would be dishonest to ignore the negative tendencies that worry us very much. Germany never concealed its interest in the democratic and stable Ukraine. So, it is obvious that every election campaign in Ukraine is interpreted as a prelude to the future Presidential election. From this viewpoint we were alarmed with the course of the election of Sumy mayor. In my opinion, it should be expedient, if the Ukrainian top authorities scrupulously analyzed this election campaign and published the materials of the investigation.
The state of the freedom of speech in Ukraine is also rather disturbing. Your journalists and mass media still come across serious difficulties. This problem gained the special importance again in the connection with the scandal around the premium “For freedom and future of mass media”, which was adjudged to Vladimir Mostovoy, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Dzerkalo tyzhnia”. I am not going to protect Mr. Mostovoy – he does not need this, he is an honest, strong and courageous man. And, undoubtedly, he deserved this premium. That is why I am surprised, when somebody demands from the editor-in-chief of “Dzerkalo tyzhnia” to return the premium. There are no reasons to do that.
Mr. Mostovoy got the premium not because he was threatened. This award is the symbol of the acknowledgement of his professional merits and the professional merits of the collective headed by him. Besides, Mostovoy never affirmed that he was threatened. The statements about the threats were communicated by representatives of German mass media, and I want to explain what these statements meant. They did not say about the intimidation of concrete person. The matter concerned the current situation in Ukraine, when the existing conditions sometimes impede journalists to fulfill their professional duties. We know that the work of representatives of mass media in your country is not easy. This work is connected with overcoming many difficulties, it is not always safe. Everybody knows that during the recent years several journalists were murdered in Ukraine, and the criminals are not found until now.
I want to draw the attention to one more important detail. The work of German public organizations is one of most essential elements of the life of our society: their role is very significant and their authority is very high. And the attempt to involve a German non-governmental foundation into a scandal artificially created around Mostovoy worries me, an official representative of the state. I have no doubts: this conflict is unable to cause damage to the reputation of the foundation or the reputation of V. Mostovoy. Yet, the conflict may inflict damage to the image of your country and, finally, to have a negative influence on the Ukrainian-German relations, which are positive now.
In this situation I am especially disturbed by the fact that the top official of the state is also involved (by his own will or by somebodys else intrigues) in this scandal. You see, I have the impression that the people, who organized this scandal with the purpose to discredit Mostovoy, discredited themselves and inflicted damage to the reputation of the state. Mind you dont fall into your own trap, a proverb says. It seems to me that the people, who organized this campaign, had to care about the pluralism of information and the creation of equal conditions for journalists work, but not to try to worsen the relations between two friendly countries.