By Emil Danielyan
The top official at the Organization for Security and Cooperation dealing with press freedom urged the Armenian parliament on Thursday to reject government amendments that would seriously restrict the work of RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
In a letter to parliament speaker Tigran Torosian, Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE’s Vienna-based representative on freedom of the media, described the U.S.-funded broadcaster as an “alternative source of information” in Armenia that provides a diversity of opinion which is “especially needed during election periods.”
"As Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is currently the only foreign media outlet using the Armenian Public Radio frequency, the adoption of the amendments would amount to a ban on their programs in Armenia," an OSCE statement quoted Haraszti as saying.
"The proposed changes to the Laws "On Television and Radio" and "On State Duties" are incompatible with OSCE commitments to safeguard pluralism and the free flow of information in the media," he added.
Haraszti has criticized the state of press freedom in the country in the past. “Although I believe Armenia has made significant progress in improving its media legislation, real pluralism in this country leaves much to be desired and is somewhat restricted,” he said during a September 2006 visit to Yerevan.
The OSCE official singled out at the time a lack of pluralism in Armenia’s government-controlled electronic media, saying that their coverage of major political events is deeply flawed.
(Photolur photo: Miklos Haraszti.)