Government takes care of national press in Azerbaijan

Jakarta (ANTARA News/AzerTAc) - On July 21 and 22, President of Azerbaijan signed a whole package of the orders, concerning strengthening of material base of mass-media and social protection of journalists.

As many as 32 newspapers and 8 news agencies of the country were allocated 20 thousand and 10 thousand AZN (or about 25 thousand and 13 thousand dollars), accordingly, as lump sum financial assistance, and there was no any selectivity: the money greater part of which will go on the hardware equipment of editions, was granted equally both to pro-government media bodies, and the oppositional mass media, criticizing the authorities on a daily basis.

Perhaps, the decision of the President on allocation of five million AZN from the reserve fund on building of an apartment house for journalists aroused the greatest pleasure in media community.

Many mark the swiftness of acceptance of this decision: the question on housing problems has been raised in the morning at the meeting of the head of state with members of the Board of Press Council and some hours later Ilham Aliyev signed the order, having allocated the impressive sum for house building.

Rewarding of 92 journalists with the high states awards for merits in development of the national press became not a less pleasant event, and in this case there was no discrimination: awarding list included not only employees of the pro-governmental editions, but also the journalists working in independent and oppositional mass-media.

The free press in Azerbaijan rapidly develops after the country regained its independence.

The holiday of the national press is, itself, the product of independence as it was marked at the initiative of the national leader Heydar Aliyev since 2000 in memory of the first newspaper in the Azerbaijani language "Ekinchi" (The Plowman), published in second half of XIX century.

The small statistics gives expressive representation about press development during the last years. In Azerbaijan, where a handful of newspapers and magazines were published in the Soviet period, now there are over 30 daily and 100 weekly newspapers representing interests of all social classes, eight republican and 14 regional TV channels.

The number of Internet users in the country exceeds 40 percent what testifies an openness of the modern Azerbaijan society.

At a beautiful two-storied residence located in one of the foregrounds of Baku ? the new office of the Press Council, which opened its doors on the occasion of the anniversary of the national press, a meeting of President Ilham Aliyev with members of the Board of this independent structure playing the role of a link between the society and mass media took place.

This is not, in itself, ordinary enough phenomenon - face to face conversation of the head of the country with representatives of media about their troubles ? a real rarity even in the countries with centuries-old democratic traditions.

At the meeting, the President has responded to the crucial issues of the modern national press, beginning from professionalism and responsibility of journalists to their social protection. The head of the state promised personal support in solution of the advertising questions, adoption of law on defamation and fighting against ?racket journalism? causing serious damage to image of the country`s mass-media.

All this can possibly be regarded as, to a certain extent, a message, in particular, to a number of the international organizations, which in their reports at times write about problems ostensibly available in Azerbaijan between the state and mass-media.

But celebrating of anniversary of the national press has demonstrated that the government has a serious and attentive attitude to media is interested in formation of the independent and strong press in the country as important public institution, and national interests of Azerbaijan are the main criterion for it as much as in all spheres.

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