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Černínský palác - jaro 2020
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Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day


World Press Freedom Day, set for 3rd May by the UN General Assembly in 1993, recalls that free media cannot be taken for granted anywhere in the world. The current war in Europe clearly underlines the importance of freedom of speech and of the press as a source of independent and truthful information, leading to responsible decision-making and adequate responses by democratic governments – in this case to unfounded and illegal Russian aggression against Ukraine. They literally do save lives. Recorded testimonies may help sentence and punish the perpetrators in the future. Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs therefore wants to thank all brave independent journalists and media and assure them of the continuous support from the Czechia.

The National Union of Ukrainian Journalists reports that 22 journalists and media workers have already been killed in Russia's war with Ukraine alone. Most recently, Vira Hryvych, RFE/RL journalist, was killed after a Russian air strike on the wider center of Kyiv on 28th April. Unfortunately, attacks on journalists, censorship, systematic persecution and obstruction in performing their profession are no exception worldwide, even outside war zones. The number of targeted disinformation campaigns has also risen sharply in recent years.

"Aggression against Ukraine, including benevolence to atrocities committed against the civilian population, did not arise overnight. They are, among other things, the result of many years of propaganda and a targeted campaign within Russia, which aimed to provoke hatred and contempt for all Ukrainians," said Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day. In Russia, many years of deliberate construction of the propaganda machinery associated with oppression of free and independent media has resulted in creation of a literally parallel information reality in the country, including distorted historical narratives about one's own past. Many Russian-sponsored disinformation activities in many countries, including in the Czech Republic, have aimed and continue to aim to de facto disarm European public opinion in the face of Russian aggression.

Support for media freedom is one of the long-term priorities of Czech foreign policy. "Czechia is sensitive to the role of independent media, we are an active member of the Media Freedom Coalition, we value our long-term important partners, such as Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, based in Prague," adds Minister Lipavský.

As part of the Transition Promotion Program, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spends more than CZK 20 million a year on projects supporting independent media, media education and training of journalists, as well as initiatives that draw attention to false reports. The Czech Republic supports activities of the Council of Europe, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, works closely with the European Endowment for Democracy and participates in other international initiatives seeking better access to information. Czechia also financially supports the UNESCO Global Media Defence Fund.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wants to use today´s occasion to thank and appreciate the tireless efforts of all courageous journalists, editors, bloggers and other media associates who remain committed to providing the public with independent and verified information despite all the risks of their profession.