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Фото greenipservices.com

Question: What is the purpose of the #icazəlimediaistəmirik campaign?

Aynur Elgünəş Answer: As you know, in December 2021, the Law “On Media” was hastily adopted and in 2022 approved by the President. There were no public discussions of the Law, only the leaders of the pro-government media gathered, as always, they said “yes”, and it was approved. No remarks of those who opposed the reactionary articles of the Law were considered. And the officials of MEDİA (Media Development Agency), manipulating in their interviews, deceived people. And the essence that we talked about from the very beginning came to light after the approval of the Media Registry in September 2022, and therefore we launched such a campaign. Our goal is to achieve the abolition of these reactionary articles. The law should be completely repealed and redesigned.

Question: A year has passed since the adoption of the Law “On Media”, which also provides for the introduction of the Media Registry. Why did you decide to launch such a campaign now? Isn't it too late?

Answer: We held actions during the passing of the Law, but it was not done in the form of a campaign, and since the problems were still ahead, many people did not want to support us. However, after the introduction of the Media Register, dissatisfaction began to grow. In January, the head of MEDİA, Ahmed Ismailov, said that after 6 months (starting from March) they would take unregistered sites to court. After those who did not pass registration were no longer considered journalists, we decided - let us say “stop” to this issue. That is, we were not late with the start of this campaign, we started it on time - already 40 media outlets were denied registration, journalists with 20 years of experience were told that “they have no experience”, several people went to court, etc. . In order for the protest to have an effect, people must feel that the problem concerns themselves directly. Previously, when I spoke about this, they answered me - "we'll see what happens." Now we have seen.

Question: What are your requirements?

Answer: Media experts, lawyers prepared more than 40 proposals on the problems of legislation and submitted them to the Venice Commission and the government. The Venice Commission has a negative opinion about the Law. At this stage, we want these proposals to be considered. Journalism is a creative profession, it cannot be squeezed into a restrictive framework, bureaucratic. Journalism can be chosen by a representative of any specialty who has a higher or secondary education.

First of all, the requirement for the need for higher education, 3-year work experience, and the provision of privileges to registrants should be abolished. Interference in the creative process of media structures, to establish censorship, to demand a plan is unacceptable, and this must be stopped. The issue of the number of materials prepared by the media body is a matter of editorial policy and state structures cannot interfere in this. Our requirements are fully reflected in the package of proposals prepared by specialists.

Question: In parallel with this campaign, a response campaign was launched against those who lead this campaign. In social networks, as well as in pro-government media, there are materials against those who are conducting this campaign. There are many accusations against you. These are accusations of a pro-Iranian orientation, of fulfilling orders from the opposition. And many of these articles are written by your colleagues - journalists. What will you say in response to these accusations?

Answer: What people who are unable to act independently think is irrelevant. Since they cannot freely make decisions, it seems to them that there is some kind of force behind all the protests. Their opinion is held until the next order, then they can change it and even support us. So, what they say does not matter. The main thing is that they themselves are against this law, they just do not have the courage to declare it. In order to see the shortcomings of this Law, no order is needed at all, a little intelligence is enough.

Question: How long will this campaign last? What steps do you plan to take as part of the campaign?

Answer: It will last until our requirements are met. We have different plans, using all civilized means we will try to convince the leadership of the country that the application of this law will throw Azerbaijan back and nothing will save it. The destruction of independent media, the authorities' control over the media in general is a tragedy for the country, corruption flourishes, lack of transparency and accountability. The loss of public control over the activities of individual officials also creates a gap between citizens and government. After all, it's not that hard to understand.

Question: Even before the Law “On Media” was adopted in Azerbaijan, it ranked last in the indexes of international organizations in terms of media freedom. What do you think, if your requirements in connection with the law “On Media” are met, and even if this law becomes completely invalid, will freedom of the media be restored in Azerbaijan?

Answer: Naturally, it will not. Because almost 90% of the country's media are under the control of the government, individual officials. The path to free media is through advertising revenue, free income. Figuratively speaking, we are fighting for the window leaf, but they still have doors and windows.

Question: What needs to be done to ensure freedom of the media in Azerbaijan?

Answer: First of all, the media must get rid of the control of the authorities.

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