ASHGABAT, 5 July 2012 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, at the 14th Central Asia Media Conference which opened today in Ashgabat, called upon the authorities in Central Asia to ensure that the Internet is a free and open space and to guarantee freedom of the media and expression online.
“The Internet should be an open and public forum for free expression, free from undue governmental interference and restrictions,” said Mijatović,
Together with Rashid Meredov, the Vice Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers and Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan, and Ambassador Ivo Petrov, the Head of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat, Mijatović addressed more than 150 journalists, government officials and representatives of civil society and academia from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as well as Afghanistan.
“Blocking and filtering are not solutions. If the authorities are concerned for the safety of their citizens they should foster Internet literacy and self-regulatory models and should not use blocking as a tool for Internet governance,” said Mijatović.
“Political prerequisites and legal constraints not only in the region of Central Asia, but in the whole OSCE region, run counter to the very basic principles of freedom of the media.”
At the end of the conference participants are expected to adopt a declaration that would serve as the basis for follow-up activities.
During her visit to Ashgabat, the Representative held meetings with,Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers and Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov, Mejlis Speaker Akja Nurberdiyeva and Chair of the Mejlis Committee on Science, Education and Culture Vladimir Gubanov, as well as Yazdursun Gurbannazarova, the Director of the Turkmen National Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, to discuss media freedom issues and future co-operation between her Office and Turkmenistan.
The OSCE Central Asia Media Conference takes place annually and provides an opportunity to co-ordinate efforts to promote and support the fulfillment of OSCE media freedom commitments in Central Asia. This year’s conference is hosted for the first time by Turkmenistan and is organized by the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media in co-operation with the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat and with assistance of the other OSCE field offices in Central Asia. The event is financed by the governments of France, Germany, Lithuania, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Alongside the conference, Albany Associates, an international communications firm that works with governments and broadcast regulatory agencies, will facilitate a master class on online and social media regulation.