Strasbourg, Tuesday, 21 June 2022
Excellencies, distinguished guests,
First of all, I would like to thank the Ukrainian delegation and its Chairperson, Ms Mariia Mezentseva, the Permanent Representation of Ukraine to the Council of Europe, the CSO "Institute of Mass Information" and PromoUkraina for organising this exhibition, which presents pictures depicting the tough and courageous work of media workers in Ukraine during the war.
The exhibition is focused on the most contemporary issues that we are facing in recent months: the war in our fellow member state Ukraine, the importance of the freedom of the press, of expression and information and the vital role they play in conflict and crisis situations.
The promotion of such testimonies affects us all and demonstrates the value of media freedom, independence, and pluralism in constructing democratic institutions and safeguarding human rights.
As a result, I would like to congratulate you on this initiative in documenting these war scenes, as it makes each of us realize what it may happen if we use force to resolve our disputes.
The atrocities and cruelties of the Russian Federation had a major impact on the proper functioning of the media. The number of journalists who, in their attempt to keep the citizens informed, themselves fell victims to the military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, is appalling.
It is the media that keeps all of us, the international community, aware of all the events that have taken place in Ukraine in the recent months, and it is them who ensure that we do not forget about or get used to the horrors that take place in our member State Ukraine. They are also the ones whose work effectively contributes to the protection of the civilian population in the war zones, averts possible new war crimes and ultimately help prevent future possible conflicts.
Hence, freedom of the press and the protection of journalists should be promoted and protected, at all times, even in exceptional situations like times of war.
The Parliamentary Assembly condemns every action of violence and supports every act to ensure the freedom of information and expression in all the member States of the Council of Europe.
The PACE Resolution 2317 (2020) "Threats to media freedom and journalists' security in Europe" firmly declares the right of journalists to carry out their work freely and highlights the need to protect all defenders of peace, with the objective of securing that democratic societies operate properly.
And we recently adopted a resolution on "The role of the media in times of crisis", which states that "It is vital for citizens to have access, through the media, to relevant, reliable, clear and factual information during a crisis, as this can have a decisive impact on society’s ability to cope effectively with difficult situations such as health crises, environmental disasters, acts of terrorism, social violence or armed conflicts."
Our goal as an Organisation is to become the guardians not only of free expression and journalism but also of the defenders of peace, democratic institutions and human rights.
And we will not be able to achieve this goal without the efforts of all human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, members of NGOs, ordinary citizen activists, and civil society as a whole. Only acting together and supporting each other we will be address the difficult situation in which the people of Ukraine find themselves.
I hope a new era of peace will begin by safeguarding the mission of journalists, the correct dissemination of information and the rights of all media workers in crisis situations. There is a lot of work to be done, but this is really needed for all of us!