Azerbaijani President: We will protect and defend freedom of speech

Azerbaijani President: We will protect and defend freedom of speech
# 23 July 2010 04:10 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev attended at the opening of the new building of the Press Council on July 22, APA reports quoting AzerTAj.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met with the board of the Press Council after getting familiarized with the building.

Aflatun Amashov the Chairman of Press Council represented the Head of State board members and thanked President Ilham Aliyev for taking care of the development of the press in Azerbaijan on behalf of the board. Speaking about development ways of the national press Amashov noted that new administrative building of the Press Council meets modern requirements and it is a holiday gift for Azerbaijani journalism. “It is also one of the most vivid examples of a country in a coherent and focused media policy, founded by national leader Heydar Aliyev. Azerbaijani journalists, in general, the public media always remember him with respect. In 1998 censorship of the press was abolished. In that time this step required very great courage. The next step was associated with improvement of legislation in the field of media. Legislation has been improved in accordance with international standards. The Ministry of Press and Information that exercising state control over the press was abolished, and created conditions for the application of self-regulatory press. Azerbaijan has drawn the function of self-regulation of the press in the CIS. In this space firstly was created Press Council. It would be appropriate to note that in the area of post-Soviet there is not such a perfect Media Institute. In Baku held conference with the participation of international experts and Press Council of Azerbaijan was presented as a single model for the area of the CIS. It was decided to create in the CIS countries similar structures using experience of the Press Council of Azerbaijan”, - he stressed.

Chairman of the Press Council also pointed out that the abolition of value added tax and customs duties on products of the media, the cancellation of debts of newspapers publishing house "Azerbaijan" at the expense of public funds, etc.

The growth of economic opportunities of the Azerbaijan state has turned the public concern about the media in a systemic, long-term strategy. The country has adopted such a perfect document as a concept of State Media Support Fund under the President of Azerbaijan Republic was established to support the development of the media.

Talking about problems of media Amashov said the main mission of the Press Council is to regulate relations between the press and the public. Members of the society, regardless of her position and office, come to us in connection with those published in the press materials about them biased, slanderous and blackmailing nature. Number of appeals for the year exceeds 1,000. Most of our media solutions perform.

The Chairman of the Press Council said that the fundamental criterion for the independence of the country’s media advertising market is still seen for private print media. Today in Azerbaijan, where the annual advertising budget is approximately 35-40 million manat, print media advertising revenues don’t reach and 2 million manat.
Referring to the problems associated with the preparation of journalists, Amashov proposed to resume the tests to identify skills during admission to higher education.

He also noted the serious need for training of talented journalists, fluent in various languages. The main role in this process may play education abroad.

Amashov also noted the need of improving social status of journalists. In particular, the decision is particularly urgent problem of housing.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev attended at the meeting and congratulated the public on the occasion of 135th year anniversary of the national press. "Our press has great traditions and they continue to live",- he said.

The president said he appreciated the work of the Press Council. “I think that since the establishment of the Council of the press has played a very positive role in promoting cooperation between public authorities and media in our country has always demonstrated a principled stand in defending the rights of journalists and, in general, has made very significant strides in the development of freedom of speech and democracy”, - He stressed.

The Head of State also spoke about the history of the independent press in the country. He noted the important role of independent media in promoting democracy, rule of law.

The President said that in this region, our country has come a very long and successful way. In Azerbaijan there are hundreds of bodies of media. Our citizens are free to keep track of all the world processes by more than 30 daily newspapers, nearly 100 weekly newspapers, 8 television stations of national importance, that is, channels are broadcasting their programs in the country, 14 regional channels and the Internet.

President Ilham Aliyev also noted the great achievements in the field of media development and spoke about the existing problems media. ”We must work together in solving these problems. Our common goal should be to fully develop Azerbaijan, turning it into a modern state, to apply all of the world’s progressive experience to provide all citizens the freedom to take more significant steps in building a legal state. Azerbaijan can fully demonstrate the possibility of long-term and sustainable development. Our economic opportunities grow. This creates additional opportunities. But I am absolutely convinced that without political reforms, economic reforms can not bring the country long-term success. They may bring short-term success. In particular, in countries with rich natural resources, due to economic reforms in the right direction can be achieved short-term successes. But if we want to ensure our long-term development, political reform must support the economic, political and economic reforms must be carried out in parallel. In our policy take into account the existing situation in the region, the realities of Azerbaijan. At the same time, we are watching very seriously and for processes occurring in the world, well know history. We know, with some challenges, the problems faced by countries in transition. Azerbaijan should be very precise, well thought out and at the same time, a consistent policy aimed at getting these problems to a minimum, risk reduction. Political reforms should not outpace economic, but at the same time should not, and keep up with them. I believe that we managed to create in Azerbaijan, such a model in which both economic and political reforms under way in parallel and integrated development of the country”, - President emphasized.

Azerbaijani President emphasized the rich history of Azerbaijan noted importance of the national and spiritual values. We share the universal values, have been successfully cooperating with the European institutions on all fronts - both in the economic sphere and in the deepening of political reforms.

Its values are also very important to us. That is, it is not alien to our values, and to the emergence of this situation has historical and geographical position of Azerbaijan.

The President reminded that Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe, the Organization of Islamic Conference. "We - one of the few countries that belong to both organizations. In both organizations, Azerbaijan’s position strengthened. Azerbaijan today plays and in future will play very important role in promoting dialogue among civilizations. Azerbaijan has already conducted a number of international activities in this area. And our geographical position, and our past, and, in general, our policy will enhance the role of Azerbaijan in this direction ", said Aliyev.

According to the Azerbaijani President has been a very positive change in the conduct of both economic and political reforms. However, this does not mean that all problems are solved in this area. We know about their problems, seek to resolve them. If necessary, recommend to the international organizations are serious about their advice. However, the final decision, we take ourselves, that is, taking the Azerbaijani people. It is our right. The history of our independence on several occasions argued that the decisions taken based on the will of the Azerbaijani people, give positive results. We will continue to pursue our own steps in this area in order to successfully and rapidly developing country", - he said.

Regarding the issue of "reket" journalism, Aliyev said that we should work together, to struggle against it. In this struggle must be civilized rules. I believe that we do not have to answer "reket" journalism, as they say, their methods. The public should seriously respond to them. And the state is ready to perform the task placed on him. But all of this work should be done within the law. I hope that soon these are contrary to our customs and traditions of the shortcomings will be corrected. I think that this takes some time, because as an independent country we live only about 20 years. In this area, as in all areas, still need some time.

For questions related to defamation, Aliyev noted that even in developed countries of Europe there is an unambiguous position on this issue. In the framework of relations with the Council of Europe, Azerbaijan has repeatedly held an exchange of views on this issue. We are not against the adoption of this law. If one considers that in Azerbaijan for freedom of speech no one is arrested, it can say that in this area there is a kind of unofficial moratorium. But we want all countries to implement activities in accordance with these criteria. In some cases, international organizations pay special attention on Azerbaijan. Perhaps, on some issues that special attention is commendable. But in some cases, this bias has a different meaning, and this, in particular, shows the development of our relations with the Council of Europe, he said.

I am directly involved with these issues, and the first head of the Azerbaijani delegation in the Council of Europe, I am familiar with all these deeds. I can say that the unjust struggle, which from 2001 to present, in some cases are against Azerbaijan, causes us great indignation. Since everything must be fair. Fairness - is the most important criterion. Of course, in the Azerbaijani society have problems. We know these problems. But all countries should be approached with common criteria. In countries in one region, adjacent to Azerbaijan, the problems are no less than ours. In some cases, it turned a blind eye, or else presented false information. And with regard to Azerbaijan’s trivia question is raised huge flop. As if someone wants to attack the reputation of Azerbaijan. We know very well that after the presidential elections in Armenia in 2008 with the participation of the army had killed more than 10 people, arrested hundreds of people, the presidential candidate was under house arrest, were arrested by deputies, representatives of the media. However, after a few days in some print media was simply information about it. And then as if nothing had happened, nor in the international press, nor the Council of Europe, or anywhere else does the information not appear. And now, from time to time someone raises this issue, but in a broad sense, this topic is closed, he said.

But if there is little, even incomparable event in Azerbaijan, as it immediately falls into the international media agencies, President emphasized.

According to the President, as if tries to present Azerbaijan as a supposedly democratic country. This is a deliberate and unfair, a struggle against Azerbaijan. We are ready for this fight, should oppose and oppose it, only its policies in the good sense, perseverance, in order to protect the interests of Azerbaijan. Therefore, with regard to issues related to defamation, I believe that this issue should be resolved in the legislation should be amended accordingly. However, we would very much like that in developed countries, claiming to be the cradle of democracy, steps were taken regarding this issue, he said.

The President noted with regret that the advertising market in Azerbaijan is still not too large. However, these figures certainly indicate that the distribution here is unfair. If the 40 million print media provided only 2 million, that is, of course, intolerable. I will strive to have in connection with this matter have been taken certain steps. Since the state will be given specific recommendations.

"A the same time, it is also true that print media can not compete with the electronic. It is true, this is the case in any country. These are the features of the media, even in developed countries with great traditions, in countries where the media have a long history. You know it well, too. Nevertheless, I am taking this matter", - Ilham Aliyev told.

The President noted the importance of training of journalists. “I want to emphasize this, and I think that we have to seriously address this issue based on the various programs. Today, the State program of training of the Azerbaijani youth abroad. This program is funded annually at a rate of nearly 10 million manat. By these means we teach our young people in leading universities abroad. Probably, the list of specialties we should include and the profession of journalist, because this really is a great need”, - President said.

The President noted that the issue of professionalism should be the highest priority not only in the media, but in general in any area. Today in all areas - economic, social sphere, manufacturing, service sector, we do not have enough professional staff. The successful and rapid development of Azerbaijan requires that all areas were working professionals. Therefore, issues related to professionalism, are general in nature. Now we are very seriously on this issue. It is important that professional staff have worked in including in journalism. I believe that with the growth of professionalism in journalism will be removed and these issues racketeering. Then there are also addressed other issues that are not inherent in our national customs and traditions. Will put an end to insults, slander and lies. I believe that the time has come for this, he said.

Azerbaijani President emphasized that Azerbaijan has freedom of speech. We will protect and defend freedom of speech. Azerbaijan state, the Azerbaijani authorities tolerant of criticism and even abuse. "I, as President, do not attach any importance to this. But it is not about that. The point is that in our society, such phenomena are perceived very badly. Dissemination of false information in the media is unacceptable. In former times it was very widespread approach. Issue false information to create a sensation, and then begin the discussion around this lies in presenting it as reality, then pass the lie to the foreign media, then return it back to have as accurate information - all we know. I believe that this method of political struggle must withdraw from the political scene in Azerbaijan. Here, of course, the media has a great role. That is today’s Internet age, the world can read any material, and when a lie is written once, twice, three times, then the fourth time in respect to the media authority will be undermined and trust it will be less", - he said.

The Head of State drew attention to the problem of responsibility of journalists. “I have mentioned the problems associated with this question. Journalists should be very responsible. It is very important unbiased position. Future development in the field of media, I see a strengthening of independent, in the true sense of independent media. Because we have in this area, particularly in the print media, while very strong trend of politicization. Perhaps, at some stage, a period when Azerbaijan was formed by the political system, political relations, it was inevitable. But I believe that today, in order to develop the media, the process of politicization has been loosened since, first of all, the Azerbaijani society is not politicized. Azerbaijani society - a patriotic society. It is a society committed to the state, statehood, but not a politicized society. I believe that the artificial politicization of society can not bring us success. Everything should be natural, including in the media. Fewer bodies, emerging in the political order, the stronger will be our media, the more positive is their reputation", - he said.

The President said that he could not give any guidance on this issue. Just want to express their opinions. “I think that the Press Council will also take the necessary steps in this direction, so that we have achieved even greater success in raising the responsibility of journalists and strengthening independent authorities of independent journalism”, - Aliyev said.

President Aliyev notified, “I also know, print media sometimes goes under the influence of external interests. The publication contains articles written by their order. I have enough information on this issue. I do not want to mention names, just want to express their opinion that it is generally unacceptable. Although this article or any report, written by political orders, received from somewhere inside, are unacceptable, it will not create us such a big problem. However, attempts to create in Azerbaijan opinion about any subject on request, indicating the outer circles and on the basis of their general plans must be stopped. Here, I simply urge journalists to patriotism. We must not allow Azerbaijan to become an arena of confrontation of any external forces and interests", - he said.

The President said that Azerbaijan is not a place of conflict of interest of other countries. “We have achieved this, despite the fact that such attempts have not ruled out that will in the future, as our geopolitical situation, our policy and, in general, our position in the region, of course, attract attention and interest on Azerbaijan. We need to do so, he continued to Azerbaijan in the future, for decades ruled by the will of the Azerbaijani people. In order for us to continue to make efforts to build our state by the will of the Azerbaijani people”, - the Head of State stressed.

"So I say again: there are such cases. I would like such cases not to occur. In the external sector has enough media resources that by their express what they want. Especially, I repeat, in the Internet era, this was not so difficult. In addition to what I said about the responsibility of journalists, I want to say a few words about the rights of journalists. We must work seriously, and on this issue. The rights of journalists must be protected to the fullest. Do not show disrespect, violence against journalists. However, in Azerbaijan we are not confronted with such phenomena. But I believe that the meaning of these words will have its influence", - Aliyev said.

”Along with this, in Azerbaijan should be protected by the rights of all categories of citizens. In this direction, we certainly need to take even more steps. I also want to say and absolutely convinced that in Azerbaijan, all citizens - from private citizen to the president - should be equal. That is the law no one can be no privileges. Being a representative of any profession does not mean that it creates immunity to someone or makes someone untouchable", - he said.

“Journalistic solidarity - a very good thing, and I approve. But sometimes we see that the journalistic solidarity put aside and the law and legislation has been suggested, related only to the protection of journalists’ rights. Along with the protection of rights, we must also ensure the rule of law”, - Azerbaijani President stressed.

President noted that “I believe that in connection with the theme of patriotism in journalism should be more serious work. Especially in countries at war, it has even greater meaning. Azerbaijan is in a state of war. Therefore, media are owned outstanding achievements in the education of our young generation in the spirit of patriotism. Of course, there are important public support and public policy, and this policy is purposefully done. In Azerbaijan theme of patriotism covers a very wide. Issues related to youth education and our success in sports, work undertaken in the area of the army - all have the same goal: we must further improve, strengthen the Azerbaijani people and the spirit of patriotism”.

According to the President, the activities of the media in this area is indispensable. “For example, I was very happy when I see that in any report or article highlights a very serious and informative topics related to patriotism. I believe that we should further strengthen this trend. Overall, I was pleased to say that with respect to the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the Azerbaijani media have an unequivocal position. It is very important. This is a national issue, the national question. In this matter the political interests must be cast aside. In this issue should not even be of the power-opposition. No one should speculate on this issue. It’s our national problem, the main question, the main problem. The Azerbaijani people, united, can solve this problem. Therefore, in connection with this issue, we must conduct more active inside the country and especially in your dealings with representatives of international media. We do not have to convince ourselves that we already know what happened”, - he said.

President Ilham Aliyev noted that this issue must constantly be on the agenda. “At a meeting with Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh, I expressed my thoughts on the matter. We will never be satisfied. As long as the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is not restored, we must constantly in all directions, by all means, in all forms to conduct an aggressive policy against Armenia. Therefore, within the country, this issue must be constantly illuminated. With regard to issues related to the foreign press, then we must strive to more fully and more intelligently communicate its position. Especially when you consider that the truth is on our side - the facts, materials, Khojaly genocide, occupation of Azerbaijani lands, holding against Azerbaijanis policy of ethnic cleansing. Those who committed these acts - those war criminals. The time will come when they will answer for these crimes before an international court. So I think that in this direction we must pursue more serious work, said Aliyev”, - the Head of State emphasized.

“Of course, as I noted, as a whole on this issue in the Azerbaijani press is a single position, but along with this, there are exceptions. This, of course, very unfortunate phenomenon. In Azerbaijani society, in the Azerbaijani media can not be of a different opinion on this issue. To justify the separatists to take interview them, promote them, to make wild accusations against the Azerbaijanis - this is unforgivable. How much do these people hate the people of Azerbaijan, that they are promoting in the Azerbaijani press those that shed the blood of citizens of Azerbaijan, innocent people. And not only in the Azerbaijani press. If only there, it would be bad. Stakeholders in the international arena, feeding a negative attitude to Azerbaijan, as it were, gives an additional argument, is grist to their mill, and they use it. The appearance of such articles in the Armenian press, the international press - all this is part of the policy, which is being co-ordinated against Azerbaijan. I can not find words, it is difficult to put into words thoughts on this question. I believe that the Azerbaijani media should very seriously and respond promptly to such facts. In this issue should not be journalistic and civic solidarity”, - Aliyev said.

The Azerbaijani President said that the proposals on the issues raised relating to conditions of journalists will be as expeditiously resolved so that the state of Azerbaijan has its supported in this area.

"I once again congratulate you on this auspicious occasion, a wonderful event. I believe that today’s holiday is a chance that we met and talked openly, that I brought to you my thoughts, and we will continue our work in such conditions of cooperation in future",- The Head of State told in conclusion.

Then, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev conferred Vusala Abishova and Aflatun Amashov certificates of honorary titles of "Honored Journalist" and Umud Mirzayev and Abbas Taptig - the honorary title "Honored Worker of Culture".