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Director-General Matsuura and President Putin Opened World Congress of News Agencies in Moscow

27-09-2004 (Paris)
Director-General Matsuura and President Putin Opened World Congress of News Agencies in Moscow
Vladimir Putin and Koïchiro Matsuura
On 23 September 2004, the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, opened with Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, and Vitaly Ignatenko, Director-General of ITAR-TASS, the World Congress of News Agencies entitled “Information: Challenge XXI”.
This Congress was organized in Moscow on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of ITAR-TASS, the largest and oldest news agency in Russia. Some 120 news agencies from 99 countries were represented in the meeting.

After the opening address of President Putin, in which he elaborated on his new policy to fight terrorism and on the role of the media in the present international context, Mr Matsuura noted in his speech that this “gathering of news agencies at the global level might best be seen as a platform of dialogue and the exchange of ideas, information and experience among many of the world’s leading news providers. This event provides a useful forum for conducting professional debate on issues of vital interest to news agencies. Freedom of expression and the free flow of information are two such issues in this globalizing era.”

“It is an era in which the relation between media freedom and democracy has never been closer. Editorial independence, unfettered access to information and rigorous professional standards are especially important for news agencies since they provide the news material and footage for so many other media outlets.”

Referring to UNESCO as the United Nations agency with the responsibilities regarding mass communication and “the free flow of ideas by word and image”, the Director-General outlined the Organization’s engagement with the process of the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS). The concept of “knowledge societies” that UNESCO promotes “should be conceived as plural, variable and open to democratic choice”, the Director-General argued. Underpinning UNESCO’s approach to the WSIS is a set of four inter-linked principles: freedom of expression; equal access to education; universal access to information, including a strong public domain of information; and the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity.

As the key role of these principles was recognized at the 1st phase of WSIS in Geneva, the “main task now… is to bring about the actual enjoyment of those basic freedoms and rights in practice “ Mr Matsuura stated. “I firmly believe that the freedom of news media, including news agencies, as well as pluralism are vital in this matter. Their freedom cannot be left at an abstract level but must take concrete form in the daily activities of media professionals and media organizations.”

One of UNESCO’s thematic meetings to be organized in the run-up to the second phase of the Summit in Tunis is an international conference “UNESCO between two phases of the World Summit of the Information Society”, which will focus on the issue of cultural diversity in knowledge societies. Organized by the Russian National Committee for the Information for All Programme and the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the Conference will be convened in St. Petersburg in May 2005 under the auspices of President Putin and the Director-General.

(UNESCO Flash Info N° 148-2004)
Pays/thèmes connexes

      · Liberté d'expression : Archives des actualités 2004
      · Fédération de Russie : Archives des actualités 2004
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