Reporters Without Borders

The German government does not control the national media

Published on Thursday 25 February 2010.
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Paris, 25 February 2010

Helenic Parliament Mister Philippos Petsalnikos President Palais du Parlement 10021 ATHENES

Subject: Summons issued to German ambassador over German coverage of Greece’s financial crisis

Mister President,

Reporters Without Borders, an international press freedom organisation and winner of the 2005 Sakharov Prize, firmly condemns the summons you have issued to the German ambassador about the German media’s coverage of Greece’s financial crisis.

It is disturbing and utterly unacceptable that Greece, whether through you or other leading officials, should give the impression that one European Union member government can ask another one to influence its media. Such behaviour, which is more typical of regimes that rank very poorly in our world press freedom index, is a direct violation of article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Under international law, and especially within the European Union, a state cannot and must not under any circumstances be held responsible for the editorial content of its news media, regardless of the form of media. In Germany, as in all European Union countries, the media are free to cover any subject in accordance with an editorial policy which they themselves determine with complete freedom. Their editorial freedom may in some cases result in their having to defend themselves in the courts, but they never have to account for their actions to government officials.

The German authorities therefore cannot and must not under any circumstance interfere in the way the German media cover the economic crisis in Greece or any other subject.

We call on the Greek parliament and all other government authorities to publicly undertake to respect the independence of the media and their editorial freedom in a lasting manner at both the national and international level.

We thank your in advance for giving this matter your attention.

Respectfully,

Jean-François Julliard Secretary-General

Cc : Permanent representations of member states to the European Union

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