VIENNA, 29 June 2011 – The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis, welcomed today's release of two French journalists who had been held by kidnappers in Afghanistan for a year and half.
"I am delighted that Hervé Ghesquière and Stéphane Taponier, their interpreter and local staff are safe," Ažubalis said.
Lithuania, which holds the 2011 OSCE Chairmanship, has made safety of journalists a priority in its work. Commitments to ensure the safety of journalists were introduced in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, which created the OSCE's predecessor, the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and have been reaffirmed many times since.
"Governments have a duty to ensure that journalists can do their crucial work in a secure environment, free of threats and violence," Ažubalis said.
Afghanistan is one of the OSCE's 12 Partners for Co-operation.