Baku, January 13, AZERTAC
The Azerbaijani President`s Assistant for Public and Political Affairs Ali Hasanov has commented on the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir`s statement on the freedom of speech and information in Azerbaijan, which he made in an interview with Voice of America Radio.
Ali Hasanov said:
-It is with great regret that I would like to say that biased and subjective allegations on the freedom of speech and information in Azerbaijan made by a number of foreign circles as well as international NGOs and media outlets controlled by them are being repeated by official representatives of the influential international organization as the OSCE without any investigation.
The freedom of speech and information has been ensured in Azerbaijan, a legislative framework in conformity with international standards has been created to regulate this area, hundreds of media outlets operate freely in the country, 82 per cent of its population have access to the Internet. Therefore, expressing concern about the situation of the media freedom in Azerbaijan, and alleging the suppression of the media, torture of journalists, arrest of human rights defenders, and the existence of impunity is a wrong position and fully contradicts the existing reality.
On the whole, distorting the essence of a particular criminal offense or generalizing it by interpreting out of context should not be described as a restriction of the freedom of speech and information in any country. Azerbaijan is a constitutional and democratic country where rule of law is ensured. Anyone, regardless of position or social status, who is involved in illegal actions as a media representative and violates the law, journalism ethics and standards, should be held accountable.
During his numerous meetings with journalists, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly stressed the importance of responsibility of journalists and called on media representatives to be objective and not to become a tool in the hands of certain circles. This is of principal importance both to the Azerbaijani state and society.
In developed European countries intolerable cases against journalists are taking place, they have their activity restricted, they are being arrested, people`s right to freely express their thoughts is violated using toughest measures. But, unfortunately, such cases do not draw attention of either international journalist organizations or the OSCE. Taking all this into account, I think that Harlem Désir and those circles in sympathy with him should take a balanced, objective and bias-free attitude towards Azerbaijan.
The Azerbaijani government is constantly taking measures to develop the freedom of speech and information, and ensure security of journalists, media transparency and responsible approach, and is committed to continuing these efforts and stands ready for open dialogue on these issues with all international and local organizations.
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