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World Press Freedom Day – 3 May 2019

2019 Theme: Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation
Statement by Timo Soini, Chair of the Committee of Ministers
Presidency of the Committee of Ministers Strasbourg 3 May 2019
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Timo Soini, Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland

Timo Soini, Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland

“An independent and pluralist media is a key pillar of our democratic societies. However, in recent years, in Europe, there has been an increase in threats and attacks on media. This is unacceptable. We, Council of Europe and member States, must step up our efforts to protect freedom of expression and media freedom and to ensure the safety of journalists”, stated Timo Soini, Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day (3 May).

The Minister recalled the Committee of Ministers’ Declaration adopted on 13 February 2019 which underlined the important democratic function played by quality journalism which “extends the range of diverse, credible, interesting and timely information available to the public and counteracts propaganda, misinformation and disinformation proliferating on social media in particular”. [1]

“Functioning democratic processes require an independently informed public and the encouragement of open and inclusive debates. In this respect, we must also address the impact, positive and negative, of artificial intelligence on the exercise of human rights, democratic processes and the rule of law.”

The Council of Europe is actively engaged in the protection and promotion of freedom of expression, media freedom, e-democracy and artificial intelligence through its various institutions and bodies. It also supports the Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists, which provides an important framework for co-operation and dialogue between media actors and the member States.

“These issues will remain high on the agenda of the Council of Europe. I am also pleased that the next World Forum for Democracy to be held in Strasbourg on 6-8 November 2019 will be devoted to information and democracy and will provide an open forum of discussion and exchange on this crucial issue for our member States and all Europeans”, concluded Timo Soini.

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[1] Declaration on the financial sustainability of quality journalism in the digital age

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