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EU worried over situation with media freedom in Ukraine

30.04.2010    source:
The EU Statement on Media Freedom in Ukraine expresses concern, among other things, over instances of harassment and violence against journalists, possible threats to media pluralism, restriction of opposition leaders’ access to air time

The European Union is concerned over recent developments in the area of media freedom in Ukraine but welcomes President Yanukovych’s pledge to uphold media pluralism and protect journalists. This is the message of an EU statement, entitled "EU statement on media freedom in Ukraine." The page header of the statement, dated April 29, refers to the Spanish Presidency of the European Union and the OSCE Permanent Council. OSCE headquarters in Vienna told Interfax-Ukraine that the statement had been read by the Spanish Presidency at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, which took place in Vienna on Thursday, April 29.
"It is of utmost importance that journalists can carry out their work without fear of violence and intimidation. In this context we are concerned by recent instances of harassment of and violence against journalists in Ukraine. We find it encouraging that President Yanukovych and members of his administration have pledged to investigate old and new cases of violence against media workers," reads the document.
The EU is also concerned about recent developments that may restrict media pluralism, including the decision to dissolve the National Commission for the Affirmation of Freedom of Speech and change the status of the new head of the state television.
"Restricting opposition political leaders’ access to air time, denying some journalists the right to take part in the coverage of official meetings, and proceeding to heavy redundancies in media regulatory bodies also raise some concern. The EU hopes to see the continuation of the long-standing practice to name a representative of the parliamentary opposition as the Head of the Parliament’s Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information," reads the statement.
Moreover, the EU welcomed the pledge made by Yanukovych to uphold media pluralism and to protect journalists "as a response to some worrying developments in the field of media freedom in Ukraine, also noted by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media in her press release dated April 23, 2010."
"The EU remains supportive of the important achievements and reforms undertaken by Ukraine to ensure media pluralism and freedom. We urge the government to uphold the steps already taken and to continue the path of reform to bring Ukraine’s legislation in line with OSCE and international commitments as regards respect for freedom of expression," reads the document.
The EU also welcomed the "timely engagement by the OSCE Representative on the Freedom of the Media and calls on her to continue following developments in cooperation with Ukraine’s authorities."
"The EU reiterates its commitment to deepen its relationship with Ukraine and its full support to the continued implementation of Ukraine’s reform agenda," reads the statement.
The last paragraph in Spanish says that EU candidate countries Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, member states of the European Free Trade Association and the European Economic Area, as well as Iceland and Norway, endorsed this statement.

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