A letter from WAN-IFRA President Jacob Mathew
With some European leaders intending to boycott the Euro football championship matches in Ukraine, WAN-IFRA has been asked whether it is appropriate to bring its annual meetings to Kiev in September 2012.
I am writing to explain why we are going, and why it is important for you to join us in Kiev.
Solidarity with the local press
The 64th World Newspaper Congress, 19th World Editors Forum and Info Services Expo 2012 will be hosted from 2 to 5 September next by the two major Ukrainian newspaper associations, the Ukrainian Association of Press Publishers and the Independent Regional Press Publishers of Ukraine.
We are going to Kiev to stand in solidarity with the local independent press, which struggles daily under great pressure, often in isolation. By holding our events in Kiev, we will provide them with an opportunity to share their experiences with the international newspaper community, allow them to benefit from international best practices, provide training opportunities, and offer moral support.
Engagement with authorities
WAN-IFRA takes every opportunity to meet with world leaders as the global representative of the world’s independent press. As with Vladimir Putin at the Moscow Congress and Editors Forum in 2006, we will have the opportunity to bring our concerns directly to President Viktor Yanukovych, who will open the Congress and Forum.
Those who were in Moscow will remember the opening ceremony in the Kremlin itself, a unique opportunity to communicate with Mr Putin directly about his failings in regard to press freedom in Russia.
WAN-IFRA, along with the Open Society Foundation, Article 19 and Freedom House, recently conducted a press freedom mission to Ukraine, meeting with local media, civil society organisations and the head of the presidential administration, Serhii Liovochkin. We’ve written directly to the president regarding specific concerns and we will continue to communicate our position in the run-up to the Congress and Forum and during the events themselves.
Information on the press freedom situation can be found on the WAN-IFRA website.
Global attention to the problems
Having the world’s newspaper publishers, editors and reporters gather for their global summit meetings provides a strong opportunity to bring world-wide attention and pressure to the press freedom problems in Ukraine.
WAN-IFRA has always believed in engagement, in standing in solidarity with newspaper men and women working in difficult conditions, and in open discussion. There is no greater message than to have the world’s press gather with their Ukrainian colleagues to address their common concerns.
For these reasons and more, I would like to invite you to join us in Kiev, not only to benefit from the presentations, networking and discussions, but to add your voice to those upholding media freedom in the country.
Full details of the event can be found at http://www.wan-ifra.org/kiev2012