Baku accused the embassies of the USA, Germany and France of illegally financing "AbzasMedia"
Baku/28.11.23/Turan: The Charge d'affaires of the USA and Germany in Azerbaijan, as well as the French ambassador, were separately summoned to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry on November 28.
It was brought to the attention of the ambassadors that organizations registered in these countries carried out illegal financing of the news portal “AbzasMedia”. The embassies of these countries were also involved in this, and in this connection, a strong protest was expressed to them, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
It was also noted that the US International Development Agency (USAID), organizations FreedomNow, New Democracy Fund and others, violating the rules of the issue of grants, illegally carried out financial transfers to the territory of Azerbaijan for “AbzasMedia.”
Along with this, Western diplomats were reminded that according to the law on media, financing of local media entities by foreign individuals and legal entities, as well as foreign government agencies is not allowed. According to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, these actions are a violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
"The Azerbaijani side strongly condemned these illegal activities and interference in the internal affairs of the country and stated that it reserves the right to take appropriate measures provided for by national legislation in connection with these facts," the message reads.
Interestingly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported on the foreign financing of “AbzasMedia” before law enforcement agencies distributed an official message about the reasons for the arrest of journalists of this publication.
As media law expert Alesker Mammadli explained to Turan, From the point of view of Azerbaijani legislation, direct foreign financing of the media is indeed prohibited, media law expert Alesker Mammadli. According to the legislation, foreign donors must be registered in Azerbaijan.
At the same time, the legislation does not restrict journalists from receiving finance from abroad on an individual basis, on the basis of service contracts. Editorial offices can also perform work on the basis of commercial contracts. The ban concerns direct financing of expenses of media entities: maintenance of offices, payment of salaries to employees, etc.
The ban on media financing was introduced by a new law on media, which caused criticism from representatives of the independent press of Azerbaijan, international organizations and received a negative opinion from the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, expert Mammadli noted.
On the other hand, amendments to the legislation on NGOs in 2013-2014 actually made it impossible to register foreign donors who are not pleasing to the authorities in Azerbaijan.