Statement delivered by Albania, in response to the Report by the Representative on Freedom of the Media Meeting 1374 of the Permanent Council Thursday, 19 May 2022, Vienna

Thank you, Mr. Chair Albania aligned itself with the statement delivered by the European Union. I would nevertheless like to deliver some remarks in our national capacity. Madam Ribeiro, I thank you for your comprehensive report, which in fact, brings a much-needed outlook on the current state of freedom of the media in our OSCE area. We have carefully followed your activity and I would like to commend you for the strong position, especially related to the situation in Ukraine and Russia. The reported number of journalists injured, abducted, attacked and killed, while daring to show in real time to the world the atrocities and crimes of Russia`s aggression in Ukraine, is a serious warning of deteriorating safety for media workers and certainly, of the media freedom. Safety of journalists and the need to fight impunity for the crimes committed against them should continue to be a priority of the OSCE, confirmed also with an MC decision in 2018. On the other hand, the situation of freedom of media in Russia is extremely alarming. Rightfully, your report describes the unprecedented and deteriorating situation in the last months. The intimidation and threats against media are unacceptable and such practices go against OSCE principles and commitments. And you are absolutely right – “There is no security without media freedom”. - 2 - Regrettably, the reality of the year 2022 has proved this fact: media freedom continues to be challenged mainly by lack of trust in media, disinformation, as well as efforts of state actors to control the flow of information by enacting legislation that restrict media freedom. We have also witnessed media outlets that promote and appeal for war – in 2022! This is unacceptable by all means and should have no place among free, professional and independent media. While our societies are slowly starting to adapt themselves after the pandemic difficult situation, media and new technologies have certainly provided more opportunities for freedom of expression. This model of doing journalism, online and offline, has also raised new concerns, such as the spreading of fake news and baseless accusations, and even propagation of hate speech and cybernationalism. Henceforth, it is imperative that we commit to improving media literacy and encouraging counter-speech and counter-narratives. We all must work together to have media, the "fourth power", objective, truthful, impartial, qualitative and reliable. Madam Ribeiro, We strongly believe that free information is closely linked with other rights: freedom of expression, education, gender equality, the exercise of citizenship. For a country like my own, aiming to join the European Union, respect for the freedom of expression and media is a key indicator of the willingness and democratic maturity as a candidate country. Albania is working, for a correct understanding and implementation of the freedom of expression and an independent media legal framework, as the foundation of a democratic society, as a milestone on the road to European Union membership. Albania considers freedom of media as a pillar of democracy, and as such one of the OSCE priorities in its comprehensive approach of security, including through the advancement and protection of human rights. Democracies can only properly function when people are well informed and when they are able to access and share information freely. It is at the same time indispensably connected with the freedom of expression. We remain particularly attentive in guaranteeing that this right is exercised in full and without hindrance by all segments of society. - 3 - Dear Teresa, We praise your attention to addressing all allegations related to safety of media workers, including my country Albania. Regardless to the provided facts and evidences, we would like to point out that any information on violation of media freedom is important and should not be undermined or tolerated. We highly commend your efforts in fulfilling your mandate. It is the duty and responsibility of all actors and institutions, national and international, to safeguard the principles of the freedom of media. In concluding, I would like to reaffirm Albania’s support for your commitment to establish close cooperation with participating States with the aim to find the best ways to address current challenges to the freedom of media. We are encouraged by your determination to uphold an honest, independent and open response to cases of serious non-compliance with OSCE principles and commitments on the freedom of expression and freedom of the media. I thank you, Mr. Chair


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