Hahn: EU will invest time and money in Eastern media

A two-day conference of media from the six countries of the European Union's Eastern Partnership - held under the auspices of Latvia's EU Presidency - wrapped up Wednesday with EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn promising the 28-member bloc would redouble its efforts to promote free and independent media in the region.

Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations delivered a speech at the conference in which he said the EU had spent more than €70m on promoting media freedom in the Eastern Partnership countries and would spend at least the same amount in the next two years.

"Freedom of the media is one of the very foundations on which our union is built," Hahn said.

It is imperative to "increase the sophistication of our news consumers" by providing "a variety of good quality information," he said.

"The principle of free speech says we must defend the right of others to say... views we don't share, but that needn't hold us back from exposing this information when it is false and exposing propaganda when it arises," Hahn told delegates.

"A controlled media is a weak media – that's why it's important that media professionals in the Eastern Partnership countries get the assistance they need – and also the protection," he said.

One strategy would be to "establish a network of journalists already familiar with EU matters" he said.

The conference featured a discussion on challenges in the area of media freedom, good ways of fostering media integrity and improving the media environment in the region.

Political Director of the Latvian Foreign Ministry Eduards Stiprais emphasised that independent, free and objective media are an integral element in pursuing common goals of the Eastern Partnership.

Following the end of the conference he took a moment to tell LSM about the conclusions he drew from the discussions.

Eduards Stiprais on Eastern Partnership media conference
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