By Anna Saghabalian
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian spoke out on Friday in favor of RFE/RL’s continued news reporting in Armenia, saying that it contributes to freedom of speech and democracy in the country.
While declining to directly comment on the controversial RFE/RL-related bill proposed by the Armenian government, Oskanian made it clear that he is against a halt to the daily retransmission of the U.S. broadcaster’s Armenian-language news programs by state radio.
“Right now I just don’t want to think that all of a sudden [Radio] Liberty may be deprived of air,” he told a news conference.
“It will hurt me if [Radio] Liberty stops going on air,” he said. “It will hurt me. Liberty makes its contribution to democracy. It would be unfortunate to see Liberty deprived of air for some reason.”
Oskanian, further noted that he is not the only government minister who thinks so. “I think there are people in the government who share my opinion,” he said without elaborating.
The 52-year-old minister has frequently and readily spoken with RFE/RL throughout his nine-year tenure. He was absent from last week’s session of Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s cabinet that approved the controversial draft amendments to the Armenian laws on broadcasting and state duties.