The European Commission in its 2010-2011 enlargement strategy set out its concerns about restrictions to freedom of expression and media in the Western Balkans and Turkey. 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.
To emphasize the importance of the issue and help identify solutions in the region, the European Commission will on 6 May host a high-level conference -‘Speak Up!’ – bringing together participants from international, regional and national media organisations, civil society, academia and national administrations.
On 14 April, three weeks ahead of the conference, Commissioner Štefan Füle met with journalists from the region to discuss the current situation with regard to freedom of expression and media. The meeting offered journalists an opportunity to voice their concerns and point to possible ways that their situation could be improved. On this occasion, Mr 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.”
If you wish to participate in this event, please register at: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/fmi/scic/Freedom11/start.php.