4 August 2020 Statement of the President of the Republic, H. E. Ilir Meta on the current situation of the freedom of media in Albania
The shocking facts of censorship and growing pressure on the independent media and critical with the government, which are being ascertained every day and are periodically denounced by prestigious international organizations, are extremely alarming and require an immediate response.
The report of the Center for Pluralism and Media Freedom, focusing on the system and media freedom in the member states and candidate countries of the European Union, notes stagnation or deterioration of the situation in Albania during the last two years.
The study emphasizes that the political power in the country is extremely influential, resulting in non-independent media or media that support the ruling party and threaten its autonomy. With a scale from 0 to 100, the risk for televisions is moderate, while for Internet portals, the risk according to the conclusions increases to a higher degree due to stronger political influence, lack of transparency regarding advertising and political candidates during election campaigns.
Very alarming is the conclusion that “in terms of basic protection of pluralism, the Albanian media are in medium risk, or 53%, the risk of media market pluralism is classified as very high at 80%”.
The deterioration in the World Index of Freedom of the Media, made public in the annual Reporters Without Borders report which stressed that the severe consequences of natural disasters could not justify the violation of media freedom; The US State Department’s position, where, among other things, drew attention to the fact that “governments’ actions against the COVID-19 epidemic should not use the disease as a pretext for suppressing people or ideas”, “Freedom House” conclusions and concerns public from the most prestigious world and European organizations of journalists, prove that Albania is seriously taking steps back in terms of media freedom and transparency.
This regression is deeply troubling and intolerable!
As freedom of expression and information is an essential condition for the opening of negotiations with the European Union, and strongly condemning censorship, pressure, blackmail and disproportionate measures against journalists and independent and critical media with the government, I strongly urge the renunciation of all the abusive and authoritarian practices that take us back decades to the darkest times, with extremely serious consequences for the European future of the country.
I encourage critical journalists to continue their mission without fear, and I invite the prestigious world media organizations to monitor even more closely the situation of their colleagues in Albania.
Albanians were separated 30 years ago by Article 55 of the “Agitation and Propaganda” and no one should think that using new forms of blackmail and pressure will be able to bring it back.
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