IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Highlights of the 1st Eastern Partnership Media Conference, 19-20 May in Riga
21 May 2015
On 19-20 May, the Latvian Presidency of the EU Council in cooperation with the European Commission, the European External Action Service and the Media Sub-Group of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum organised the 1st Eastern Partnership Media Conference. Over 400 participants including journalists, media professionals, experts, managers, policymakers, media advocacy groups, NGOs dealing with media issues, representatives from think tanks and agencies that regulate the media, as well as academics and politicians from the Eastern Partnership countries – and the Member States were in attendance at this lead-up to the 4th Eastern Partnership Summit event.
The focal point of the conference was the discussion on challenges in the area of media freedom, possible solutions to fostering media integrity and improving the media environment in the region. A closer look was given to the legal, regulatory and political aspects of the media environment in the EaP countries. The experts discussed the risks and challenges resulting from the outside influence and stressed the need to diversify sources of information in order to combat the propaganda pressure.
Ināra Mūrniece from the Saeima, opened the conference highlighting the decisive role of the free media in the preservation and advancement of the Eastern Partnership’s shared values, goals and ideals. She continued that independent media ensure balanced and credible information and prevent the society from falling victim to misleading propaganda and false information.
Eduards Stiprais, Political Director in the Foreign Ministry’s Undersecretary of State of the Republic of Latvia, echoed the message in his statement and suggested a closer cooperation between EU and the EaP countries in terms of addressing the risks of exposing the public to disinformation or dissemination of false information and increased financial support of the EU.
EaP CSF member, Boris Navasardyan, the President of the Yerevan Press Club from Armenia also presented the results of the Messages of Russian TV: Monitoring Report 2015 on trends in the main Russian TV channels.
Concluding speech was delivered by Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. Having highlighted main challenges to the media freedom including the shortage of funding, limited access to objective, independent and high-quality information, and the unprecedented spread of disinformation, he reiterated the need for closer cooperation with the partner countries and emphasized the EU's continuous support for media freedom and human rights in the region.