Freedom of Speech in the EaP Countries to be Discussed in the European Parliament Ahead of the Vilnius Summit

Nov 18, 2013, 09:19 ET from EU – Ukraine Business Council

BRUSSELS, November 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Freedom of speech in the EaP countries will be discussed in the European Parliament ahead of the Vilnius Summit. The conference will take place on 20 November, 14.30h - 15.30h, room F-1042 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The host and Chairman of the conference is Fabrizio Bertot, EPP (Italy). The discussion is inspired by the Foundation for Democracy and Governance (Belgium).

Freedom of speech has been restricted in Ukraine in past years. Following a period of relative freedom from 2005-2010, the scope of direct and indirect government control of the press has increased in the last 2-3 years, cancelling out the trend of liberalisation under the previous government. The press in Ukraine is less able to perform its role as a watchdog of government and political actions, and handicapped from delivering a reliable source of information to the public on the situation in the country. The instrument of "mass-media" has become institutionalised as a public relations and propaganda tool to serve political and commercial objectives without regard to factual reporting or analysis.

Denis Macshane, Former Minister for Europe, will make a key-note speech at the conference. Mr Macshane is a former BBC journalist and firmer President of the National Union of Journalists in the UK.

The Institute of Mass Information in Ukraine reports that 2012 saw a peak in repression applied against media critical of the government - with 324 cases. That is the highest number of cases in the last 10 years, and this trend is seen as being linked to the impunity of the police, officials and politicians. The trend has continued to rise in 2013.

The conference will present the case of harassment of independent and pro-opposition broadcaster - ATV Broadcasting (Ukraine) from the side of the local authority.

This seminar will discuss the current situation regarding freedom of speech in the Eastern Partnership countries ahead of the Vilnius Summit on 28-29 November and analyse the measures needed to consolidate international standards of press freedom as an essential pillar stone for the development of democracy in these countries.

Fabrizio Bertot joined the European Parliament in April 2013 replacing Gabriele Albertini. He is a Member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.

SOURCE EU – Ukraine Business Council