OF BROADCASTERS IN FRY
Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Although, unfortunately, I cannot be with
you today, as my duties require my presence in Strasbourg, I am
very pleased and honoured to be given the opportunity to convey
to you my best wishes for a successful conference.
I consider the topic of this event to be
of utmost importance for the future of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
and its involvement in European construction, as there cannot be
any genuine democracy without freedom of expression and information
and the existence of a plurality of independent media.
Full respect for the right of all individuals
to receive and impart information, ideas and opinions without interference
by public authorities and regardless of frontiers is for the Council
of Europe a fundamental prerequesite for accession to the Organisation,
in line with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
This implies that the electronic media,
which will be the focus of your conference, can develop an independent
editorial policy which reflects the variety of views and opinions
in society, given their impact on the public and their central role
in shaping public debate and forming public opinion.
The private broadcast media, both commercial
and non-commercial, must be one of the pillars of the democratic
broadcasting system that will be at the core of your discussions.
This requires that they can operate on the basis of a clear and
secure legal framework which allows them to develop without any
risk of undue interference, in particular by public authorities,
while respecting legitimate public interests such as respect for
human dignity and the sensitivity of minors or the non-apology of
violence or racial hatred.
Over and above these private media, one
must not lose sight of the specific and crucial contribution which
public service broadcasting organisations can and must have, as
a forum for public discussion where all views, opinions and cultures
can express themselves.
Like all of you, I believe that, beyond
the establishment of a proper regulatory framework for the private
electronic media, a major task ahead will be the transformation
of the RTS into a genuine independent broadcasting organisation.
The transition to a democratic broadcasting
system in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia will require the firm
commitment of all the parties concerned, and in particular the public
authorities, which will have to demonstrate a constant spirit of
openness and accept public scrutiny and public criticism.
The international community has a duty to
provide assistance to this process if its wants lasting peace, stability
and democracy to be established in the region of south-east Europe.
I can assure you that the Council of Europe,
on the basis of its long-standing expertise in the area of media
law and policy, is willing to take an active part in this process.
In this perspective, the conclusions and recommendations which you
will prepare at the end of the conference will be of crucial importance
and I look forward to receiving them.
In the meantime, I wish you again a successful
message from Mr Walter Schwimmer Secretary
General of the Council of Europe