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By Emil Danielyan
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe kept up its embarrassing pressure on Armenia to reopen two leading independent broadcasters with a statement issued by its current Dutch chairmanship on Friday.

“The fact that both companies have been unable to broadcast for well over a year raises concern about the pluralistic nature of the broadcast media in Armenia,” a personal representative of the OSCE chairman-in-office, Netherlands Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, said in a letter to Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian.

The official, Ambassador Daan Everts, said the Armenian authorities should adopt “a more liberal attitude towards freedom of expression” by allowing the A1+ and Noyan Tapan TV channels to resume their work. He also stressed that the authorities’ latest refusal to give both channels new broadcasting frequencies “triggered indignation among the media community within and outside Armenia.”

The OSCE had already deplored the decision taken by the National Commission on Television and Radio through the head of its Yerevan office and its Vienna-based special representative on press freedom. That was followed by a more strongly-worded criticism made by the secretary general of the Council of Europe, Walter Schwimmer, this week.

The administration of President Robert Kocharian has not yet officially reacted to the international criticism which could exacerbate the persisting fallout from its controversial handling of this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections. But some leaders of the governing coalition have already accused the Kocharian-appointed commission of further undermining Armenia’s international standing.

(OSCE photo: Netherlands Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.)
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