Brussels, 14 April 2011
Commissioner Stefan Füle takes a strong stance on freedom of expression and media in the Western Balkans and Turkey
In order to promote and emphasize the crucial importance of freedom of expression and media in the Western Balkans and Turkey, the European Commission will host on 6th May "Speak Up !", a high-level international conference bringing together 400 participants who will exchange best practices and look for solutions to growing challenges regarding media freedom in the region. The Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy will be opening and closing the conference.
Freedom of expression is a fundamental pillar of good governance and accountability in democratic societies, which also requires responsibility of media professionals. The European Union expects candidate countries and potential candidates to implement such a core democratic principle and to enable a varied, pluralistic debate in the public space.
Today, three weeks ahead of the conference, the Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy met with journalists from the Western Balkans and Turkey to discuss the current situation with regard to freedom of expression and media in the region. The meeting offered journalists from countries covered by the enlargement policy an opportunity to voice their concerns and point to possible ways that their situation could be improved. Some of these journalists have been prosecuted, threatened or otherwise attacked for expressing their views.
On the occasion of the meeting, Štefan Füle said "Freedom of expression is not ensured just by adopting laws and creating institutions – it is a fundamental value, which needs to be cherished by all societies and without which no democracy can function."