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Statement of Media NGOs on the Speaker’s Declaration about the Journalists’ Protest on May 3

04 May 2018
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Media NGOs and independent journalists were taken aback by the statements made by Speaker Andrian Candu in a press briefing at Parliament, on Thursday, 3 May - the World Press Freedom Day. Thus, when asked by a reporter why he had not come to talk to the participants in the Solidarity March, Andrian Candu came up with a tough answer: ‘They do nothing but write projects, receive external funding and make sure to spend that money. And they are accustomed to organizing protests on this day of the year. But instead of organizing a protest, they’d better come, put their shoulder to the wheel and do something.’

This affirmation gives the impression that the Speaker of the Parliament was disturbed by the fact that Moldovan journalists decided to celebrate the World Press Freedom Day through protest activities in front of the Legislature.
We would like to point out that media organisations around the world organize on this day various activities aimed at raising the awareness of the public and officials, and make recommendations to the authorities. In this respect, the Solidarity March organized by the Independent Journalism Center of Moldova together with other media organizations was no exception but rather a continuation of the tradition to promote the true values of a free press. We believe that a dialogue with authorities at least once a year, on Press Freedom Day, is a natural act of crucial importance both for journalists and for officials. Unfortunately, an open dialogue did not take place this time, and we had to communicate via mail. 

The Speaker of Parliament says that instead of protesting we would better put our shoulder to the wheel and do something. We recall that non-governmental organizations have come up with many initiatives over the years. Civil society drafted the Law on Access to Information, passed in 2000; the Law on Freedom of Expression; the Law on Denationalizing Public Periodicals, and so on. Some of these initiatives have been voted on by Parliament while others, such as the draft law on amending the Law on Access to Information and other ones, are pending review.
 
We reiterate that representatives of media organizations are part of the Working Group for Improving Media Legislation set up by the Parliament, and are actively involved in meetings of this group and its subgroups, as well as participating in drafting laws and amendments, such as the draft Law amending the Law on Access to Information, the Law on Freedom of Expression, the Law on Advertising, the Law on Personal Data Protection, the Audiovisual Code, the Contravention Code, etc.
 
Regarding the fact that some participants in the protest "do nothing but write projects", Andrian Candu's reproach seems totally unfair. Under current conditions, when there is no loyal competition on the media market, when we are still dealing with media concentration, with monopoly on the advertising market, these projects are of vital importance to the media. Without support from external donors, media in the Republic of Moldova would have been either party-owned or fully subordinate to politicians.
 
We regret the inappropriate tone of Andrian Candu's statements and his blaming of the free press and civil society—a community which is currently in need of support and encouragement from national officials. In our view, the attempts to diminish the role of free press and non-governmental organizations in a society that is only making the first steps on the path of democracy do not fit into the pro-European discourse of the current Government.
 
Independent Journalism Center
Association of Independent Press
Association of Electronic Press
Center for Investigative Journalism
Press Freedom Committee
Association of Independent TV Journalists 
‘Access-info’ Center