The Cyprus Declaration
CONFERENCE OF MEDITERRANEAN REGION JOURNALISTS
Cyprus 8-9 March 2002
We, the 37 trade union representatives from 15 countries united here in Cyprus on 8 and 9 March 2002 for the 4th Conference of Mediterranean region journalists on the theme "Mediterranean, a bridge of peace, freedom, security and cooperation between people - the role of journalists" hereby adopt the following final declaration.
Over the past year the situation for journalists has not improved in the Mediterranean countries. The terrorist acts of 11 September merely served to increase the monitoring of work done by journalists on the pretext that adopting this approach would protect citizens in the fight against terrorist organisations.
On the basis of declarations made in Milan (1993 and 1995), Zagreb (1997), Florence (1998), Rabat (1999) and Athens (2001) and of the activities of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ ):
- We condemn the fact that in certain Mediterranean countries journalists and the independent media are increasingly being subjected to acts of violence, intimidation and censorship. This is particularly evident in Turkey and Tunisia. But attacks on the journalists' freedom of information can also be carried out in less evident ways, as in Algeria and Morocco. Sometimes the government even takes complete control of certain media. Take Italy, for example, where Berlusconi exerts his authority on all the television channels. We are asking all trade union representatives to display greater solidarity and act against these attacks by appealing to those international organisations and associations that endeavour to defend the freedom of the press.
- We express our determination to gain the support of all journalist organisations in the region so as to boost dialogue and ease tensions.
- We feel it is essential to step up trade union and professional projects in the Mediterranean region which are aimed at promoting the role, dignity and professional autonomy of journalists.
- Defending journalism is something we consider to be essential as it is the main instrument that a) lends meaning to the immense flow of information, communication and propaganda which is forever expanding with the advent of new media technologies, and b) passes on that information to the public. Only journalism can be an essential element in creating, stabilising and developing democracy in different countries.
- Solidarity between journalists on both sides of the Mediterranean should more effectively boost efforts to combat all forms of censorship and the procedures of self-censorship that tend to take hold when major international crises occur.
- To protect their role, dignity and professional autonomy, journalists should be able to count a) on the articles of association of companies that recognize their values, and b) on economic conditions and contractual standards which are validated by means of collective agreements. These essential instruments serve to fight against concentrations of media monopolies and prevent them from being subordinated to outside ideologies or interests alien to the aims of reporting. Mediterranean organisations must also intensify exchanges of trade union and vocational information and training and adopt action plans that reinforce journalists' status.
- We condemn the risk of journalistic information being used as a weapon in times of conflict and we ask all journalists to remain extremely vigilant in this respect, for their professional dignity is at stake.
- In times of war, journalists must still be free to gather information whilst being provided with military assistance and protection. The Conference calls on the respective international organisations and governments to secure the right to access sources of information whether they are public or issued by other actors involved in a conflict.
- We condemn all military attacks against editorial offices, for this is the greatest violation of the freedom of expression.
- To bolster the dialogue and cooperation between countries in the Mediterranean region, we underscore the absolute necessity of setting up and developing public radio and TV broadcasting services that are not controlled by the state and which have stable, well-defined resources. However, the next summit of heads of state of the European Union (Barcelona, 15-16 March) could strike a fatal blow on all public audiovisual media if the agenda planned by the Spanish government were adopted.
- We call on the EU to help expand the scope of present cooperation and create a veritable chain of public services in the Mediterranean region. To this end, we have decided to set up a working group comprising both journalists already working for radio and television organisations and experts in this field. Furthermore, the group could launch both a website and an online newspaper, which, in line with a first draft prepared by Information Without Borders (IWB), could be called the "Med-Mediterranean Electronic Diary". The online newspaper will also carefully highlight all cases of human rights violations so as to a) help trade union organisations draw public attention to these issues and b) step up international pressure in this area.
- We hope this will result in an increase in the number of trade unions participating in the group's annual conferences, even if they are no longer affiliated to the IFJ. The role of unionised journalists can make a significant contribution towards making the Mediterranean a peaceful, free and secure region and boosting cooperation between the countries and people concerned.
- With the aim of consolidating the dialogue within the Mediterranean region, we are calling for Mediterranean journalists to have free access to information and to be able to move about more freely, particularly with regard to visas and especially where journalists from the Maghreb region and the Middle East or Palestinians working for foreign media are concerned.
- With this in mind, we are calling on the International community in general, and above all on the European Union, to intervene forcefully in the war between Israel and the Palestine Authority, deploying a political and diplomatic task force that will enable talks to be resumed between the most extreme factions which are unfortunately currently dictating events on both sides, the ultimate aim being to ensure that a Palestinian state is recognised and that a permanent form of security is established for the state of Israel. We ask the media to launch a high-profile campaign on this burning issue.
- As regards the situation in Cyprus, we feel it is a source of dangerous tension and instability in a crucial part of the eastern Mediterranean, and we hope that the talks conducted over the past few days between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities will very quickly lead to an agreement based on UN resolutions and EU declarations.
- Meanwhile, we undertake to organise and support initiatives entailing analysis by and debate between Israeli and Palestinian journalists and Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalists.
- Bearing in mind the extremely rapid development of the technologies and techniques used in journalism and the need to offer journalists (especially younger journalists) specific vocational training, we are proposing various measures for the initial and continuing training of journalists, including scholarships or exchanges and schools of journalism founded and managed with the support of the IFJ, the European Union and other organisations.
- We have decided to set up a seven-strong committee, including in particular the organiser of the next meeting, to boost and promote the ideas, objectives and decisions resulting from this Conference. A report will be drawn up and presented next year by the person in charge of the previous meeting, led by the Coordinating Committee.
Antonio Velluto (Italy), FNSI, delegate for international affairs, member of the EFJ's Executive committee.
Mario Guastoni (France), SNJ, delegate for international affairs, member of the IFJ's Executive committee.
Juan Antonio Prieto (Spain), FAPE, member of the IFJ's Executive committee.
Younous M'jahed (Morocco), General Secretary of the SNPM, member of the IFJ's Executive committee.
Fanny Petralia (Greece), Vice President of the Journalists' Union of the Athens Daily Newspapers.
Andreas Kannaouros (Cyprus), President of the Union of Cyprus Journalists.
Fawzia Mezzi (Tunisia), member of the Bureau of the Association of Tunisian Journalists (AJT).
Mediterranean Journalists and the situation in Palestine and Israel
We, journalists from the Mediterranean region united in Nicosia for one of our meetings, are distraught and indignant about the situation in Israel and in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel, which is deteriorating day by day.
Today, the idea of peace between Palestinians and Israelis that took shape between 1993 and 2000 just seems like a distant memory.
The Israeli government and army are forcing Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank to endure living conditions that are becoming more and more inhuman with each day that passes. Ariel Sharon's government must take the main responsible for this, in particular by presenting the Oslo process as "the worst catastrophe" that has ever taken place in the country.
This policy is criminal with respect to its impact on the Israeli people, who are paying the price of the occupation with the deaths of innocent civilians. The Israelis' cannot hope to live in peace and security by driving a people to despair and terrorism.
Journalists from the Mediterranean region issue this appeal to:
- All Israeli and Palestinian journalists who are striving for peace in the midst of such terrible conditions;
- all journalists in the Mediterranean region who are friends of the Palestinian and Israeli people and want to see peace established in the Middle East.
Journalists from the Mediterranean region have decided to send a delegation to meet Israeli and Palestinian journalist trade union organisations as soon as possible.
Furthermore they hope:
- That the principles and resolutions of the United Nations, and those of the Geneva conventions, will be respected;
- that an international peacekeeping force will be set up; - that Israeli settlements will be dismantled and that the Israeli army will immediately withdraw from the territories occupied in 1967.
- that a Palestinian state will be set up alongside the Israeli state, with each respecting the legitimate rights and aspirations of both peoples.
Nicosia, 9 March 2002
SHOWING SOLIDARITY FOR THE GREEK JOURNALISTS ON STRIKE
Journalists from the Mediterranean region representing 15 groups at the 4th Conference in Nicosia have expressed their total solidarity with the Greek journalists and their demands.
Journalists from the Mediterranean region warmly support the strikers who are demanding salaries commensurate with their work and also calling for respect for the ethical principles underpinning the provision of free, objective, high-quality information.
Journalists from the Mediterranean region feel that their colleagues are vanguards in the fight for greater dignity and better working and living conditions.
PALESTINIAN RADIO AND TV
With the help of the IFJ, its affiliates and the respective governments, the Conference in Nicosia must help to send out trainers and equipment to all the countries in the Mediterranean region that might need them and have expressed a desire to receive them. This applies in particular to the Palestine Authority following the shelling of its radio and television stations by the Israelis.
Journalists in the Mediterranean region and International Women's Day
United in Cyprus for their 4th meeting, journalists from the Mediterranean region played a full part in International Women's Day.
In this area, as indeed in others, social and wage inequalities between men and women persist in the workplace, and women are subject to all kinds of discrimination in their daily lives.
The journalists from the Mediterranean region call for women to be entitled to equal pay for equal work and to equal opportunities for professional emancipation.
Too many women are having to put up with violence and are forced to turn to prostitution. Some of them are frequently refused contraception; others are not guaranteed maternity benefits.
Journalists in the Mediterranean region have a major role to play if the undermining of women's emancipation is to be prevented. They must actively campaign to ensure that female journalists can do their job without being hindered and that women's image in the media is not distorted.
Women have a right to real jobs and a real life, to equality in the workplace and to parity in all areas of civic and family life. Journalists from the Mediterranean region declare that the situation faced by women is deteriorating in many countries in the region and are calling on the profession to denounce anything that may hinder women's development in today's society.
Larnaca, 8 March 2002
Having been informed about attacks on the daily Turkish Cypriot newspaper AVRUPA (AFRICA)- published in the north of Cyprus- and the daily threats made against its journalists and writers, the 4th Conference of Mediterranean region journalists strongly condemns this unacceptable situation and calls a) for it to be stopped immediately, b) for the unobstructed publication and distribution of the newspaper, and c) for the editorial and other staff to be able to work in safe conditions.
Nicosia, 8 March 2002
Concentration of media ownership
The concentration of media ownership by multinational news companies taking place in the countries of eastern Europe, the so-called 'transition countries', is causing a great deal of concern.
In fact, in many cases these multinational companies are adopting an attitude that goes against the rules currently applying to journalists and the profession as a whole. It is therefore becoming more and more urgent and necessary to reinforce the IFJ's European structure so that it can be more open to journalists' organisations from outside the EU.
Nicosia, 8 March 2002
Due to the absence of representatives from the Association of Israel Journalists at the Mediterranean Conference and in the light of the worsening situation in Palestine, we must submit our final declaration to the Israeli Embassy in Cyprus.
Nicosia, 8 March 2002