journalists which highlighted serious concerns about the increase in unethical practises such as journalists being asked to write articles paid for by business or other interests. More than half the journalists surveyed said they had experienced political pressure over what they wrote. Most also indicated that advertisers were able to influence media outlets not to report in a critical way about their business activities. Turkey: The AEJ’s Turkish vice-president, Dogan Tilic, said that 64 journalists were now imprisoned in Turkey and thousands had in recent years faced investigations that could lead to fines or prison terms. The Congress passed a Resolution calling on the Turkish government to stop abusing its laws to prosecute journalists, and asking member states of the European Union to press Turkey to repeal the restrictive laws under which journalists are forced to live in fear of being charged with offences under laws related to terrorism, state security and insulting state institutions. Moldova: Aneta Grosu, the head of the AEJ’s Moldova Section, who is also a senior editor of an independent newspaper Ziarul de Garda, was obliged to miss the Bucharest meeting because she had to appear in a court in Chisinau to answer defamation charges against the paper brought by two prosecutors and a former member of parliament. Many formerly independent media organisations in Moldova have succumbed to pressures from various political interests to stop investigating and reporting on issues of corruption and influence-peddling in the country.
against alleged fraud in the presidential election last December. Journalists in Belarus are deeply concerned about government plans to further restrict the activities of civil society organisations, and draft legislation which, they fear, would deny citizens the right to legal redress in cases when the police use excessive force while making arrests. The AEJ Congress welcomed recent expressions of concern by the European Commission and members of the European Parliament about the state of press freedom in some EU member states and in many European countries which are not in the European Union but which belong to the Council of Europe and the OSCE (Organisation for Security And Cooperation in Europe). The Congress confirmed the AEJ’s intention to continue raising concerns about attacks on legitimate media freedom to European institutions. The AEJ is an Observer member of the Council of Europe’s standard-setting body, the Steering Committee on Media (CDMC).
In Bucharest the AEJ conducted its own audit of the squeeze on press freedom in five other countries in the region, which exposed a pattern of the erosion of journalistic independence, and a corresponding decline in press standards, in Bulgaria,Turkey, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus.
Ukraine: The AEJ Ukrainian section gave details of the ownership of the major media entities by oligarchs with political interests, including a 24 percent share of the TV market in the hands of persons close to Valeriy Khoroshkovsky, who is currently one of the heads of the country’s security service. As in Bulgaria, the Ukrainian media landscape is marred by the substantial number of paid-for materials - in effect advertisements - shown on TV as if they were genuine news stories. The AEJ Ukrainian Section has partnered the Telekritika website and published English-language versions of Telekritika’s data monitoring Ukrainian TV channels. It shows a high and growing rate of self-censorship and of clearly partisan news stories. Belarus: Andrei Aliaksandrau of the Belarus Association of Journalists reported that conditions for independent journalism there had deteriorated further in the past year. Dozens of journalists were harassed or arrested during the large-scale protests
More than sixty journalists from seventeen countries took part in the AEJ’s 2011 General Assembly and Congress in Bucharest on 12 and 13 November.
* AEJ’s Media Freedom Representative EUROPEANBUSINESSREVIEW
November - December 2011 issue of European Business Review (EBR) magazine