Monsieur Désir, fellow ambassadors, journalists and other guests…
Good morning! I’m pleased to join you here today to support the important work that professional and ethical journalists are doing in Moldova.
Let me begin by thanking the organizers: the Press Council, the Association of Independent Press, the Independent Journalism Center and the Broadcasters Association. Your critical efforts to improve Moldova’s media environment are truly inspiring.
I know that everyone here understands that a strong, independent media is an essential part of a healthy democracy. It holds elected leaders accountable, informs citizens on key issues, and exposes the inefficiency and corruption that hinder the development of countries like Moldova.
The United States is dedicated to helping Moldova on its path to become a stronger and more vibrant democracy. And facilitating greater freedom of the press is a critical part of our assistance. A good example is USAID’s “MEDIA-M” program, which supports the professional development of journalists, reinforces independent media, and helps to sustain investigative journalism.
We will continue to closely follow instances where journalists are intimidated or repressed, or unnecessary limits are placed on the freedom of speech or access to information. We also encourage professional media organizations to support each other, and address together the challenges facing independent voices in Moldova.
So what are these challenges? Foreign propaganda and misinformation seek to derail Moldova’s progress along its chosen path. But false and misleading information produced right here adds to this confusion, making it more difficult for Moldovan citizens to understand what is happening inside their own country. Smaller, more independent outlets face serious financial difficulties, which threaten their ability to stay in business – and we have seen their reporters denied access to public information and have been barred from covering public events of importance to the Moldovan people.
Our embassy will continue to raise these and other issues with all of you and with the government and leaders of Moldova. We will continue to provide assistance in the media sector to ensure that all Moldovans have access to a range of voices and viewpoints. And we will continue to support media literacy efforts, so that Moldovans no matter their age or background have the tools to critically evaluate the flood of information that streams from their computers, smart phones and televisions.
Now, we also recognize that media representatives don’t just have rights—they also have responsibilities. And as we approach national parliamentary elections, I encourage you all to actively and objectively cover this campaign. Let’s ensure that every candidate, party, and policy proposal receives the scrutiny that the public deserves. Every party, whether in power or in opposition, should be covered. All parties and candidates should have access to media so they can directly tell voters what they stand for and give citizens the best chance to make choices based on accurate, useful and relevant information. A credible electoral process depends on this equal access to media.
A strong, open, and ethical media sector plays a key role in Moldova’s future. I know you are all up to this challenge.
Thank you for the opportunity to join you here today, and we look forward to working with you as you discuss how to best inform the people of Moldova at this most crucial time. Thank you.