5th News Agencies World Congress ends in Baku. AZERTAC assumes presidency of News Agencies World Congress

Thursday, November 17, 2016 - 15:30

Baku, November 17, AZERTAC

The 5th News Agencies World Congress has today wrapped up in Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku.

Addressing the closing ceremony, President of the News Agencies World Council, CEO of Press Association Clive Marshal said Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon sent a message to participants of the 5th News Agencies World Congress.

Deputy Director General of UNESCO Getachew Engida read out the UN Secretary-General`s message.

The message reads: “I am pleased to send greetings to the fifth News Agencies World Congress. Traditional and new media are essential to the rule of law, good governance and democracy. United Nations Member States reaffirmed this principle in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted last year as a blueprint for peace, prosperity, dignity and opportunity for all.

Freedom of expression and the media are essential to this new global roadmap for people and the planet. News agencies have an extremely important role in disseminating timely, quality information. This is both a means and a goal of positive change.

Shifts in technology and business models have opened new avenues for freedom of expression around the world. Ever more people are able to access, produce and share information. This exchange of news and ideas, within and across national borders, has tremendous potential for good. On the other hand, the spread of misinformation, especially hate speech, presents grave risks to peace and progress. The news media have a particular responsibility to counter this by promoting tolerance and understanding and presenting the truth fearlessly.

The international community also has a responsibility to support free media and stand firm against forces that threaten inclusive and open societies. These threats range from censorship and the blocking of digital information to physical intimidation against journalists. Together, they undermine freedom of expression, a fundamental human right that is vital for truly sustainable development.

In the past decade, at least 827 journalists have been killed in the line of duty – many, but by no means all, working in conflict zones. It is essential that their safety is preserved and respect for their profession observed. Many more reporters for traditional and new media around the world have been threatened, detained and imprisoned for doing their essential work. Too often, such obstruction occurs with Government acceptance or collusion, and the perpetrators are able to act with impunity.

Tackling these threats demands the commitment of all – Governments, first, and all relevant actors, including the United Nations. I commend the organizers, and the President and Government of Azerbaijan, for convening the fifth News Agencies World Congress in Baku, and I wish you a successful and fruitful meeting.”

Clive Marshal then thanked the Azerbaijani President and government, as well as the Heydar Aliyev Foundation for the excellent organization of the 5th News Agencies World Congress, and for hospitality shown to them. He congratulated AZERTAC Director General Aslan Aslanov on taking on the Congress` presidency.

Member of the Congress Council, Deputy CEO of German DPA Agency Peter Kropsch read out the Declaration of the Baku Congress.

Participants of the Baku Congress adopted the Declaration.

The declaration reads: “We, heads of more than 130 leading news agencies and regional news agency alliances who arrived in the capital of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Baku, to attend the 5th News Agencies World Congress, “New challenges for news agencies”, hosted by Azerbaijan State News Agency (AZERTAC) and supported by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, on November 16-17, 2016,

- note that our biggest challenges are: Financing and Defending sustainable, independent and unbiased news reporting based on the principles of freedom of speech in the digital era;

- stress the importance of securing journalists' safety when doing their jobs;

- recognise the commitment of international, regional and national media organisations to fundamental principles of information provision, underlining the fact that the freedom of press is the crucial requirement in the 21st century;

- stress that against the background of ongoing transformation in the information society, respect for universal values, human dignity, rule of law, justice, equality and respect for racial, ethnic and cultural diversity are of vital importance and an essential condition for the activities of the media;

- urge all to combat plagiarism and copyright infringement and to combine efforts to prevent the production and deliberate spread of untrue and biased information

- announce that a decision was made to hold the 6th News Agencies World Congress in the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia in 2019.

Addressing the event, newly elected President of the News Agencies World Congress, AZERTAC Director General Aslan Aslanov thanked the Congress participants for confidence and support.

“Dear friends, the 5th News Agencies World Congress is wrapping up. Over these two days we discussed a range of issues relating to the present and future of news agencies. I think that the Congress was a success and featured fruitful meetings and discussions.

The goals of the Congress include helping news agencies adapt to the changing environment, expand business opportunities and deepen cooperation. I believe that this Congress will play a key role in fulfilling our tasks, setting new goals and outlining future prospects.”

He said: “Azerbaijan attaches great importance to the 5th News Agencies World Congress, and considers it a milestone event in the global media history. The development of news agencies stimulates changes on the global information arena. Founded at the initiative of TASS in 2004, the Congress aimed to group news agencies in a single body, and help them address challenges in a more flexible manner. And today we are closing the 5th News Agencies World Congress. In preparation for the Congress, we worked closely with the Council, having convened three meetings in Baku and two in London. I have to say that these meetings paved the way for important changes in the activity of the Congress. For the first time we managed to draw the attention of the UN and UNESCO management to the Congress. We also instituted two new positions – president and deputy president of the News Agencies World Council.”

“We believe that this will mark the beginning of milestone improvements in the activity of the Congress. We think that there is a need to improve the statute of the Congress. It should feature the institution of the positions of the Council`s president and vice president. We can hold the Congress in a more organized manner based on membership principle and adapt its activity to international law. I believe that the News Agencies World Congress will grow into a more powerful organization able to benefit all news agencies around the globe.”

“Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva, employees of the Foundation and Heydar Aliyev Center, preceding chair of the Congress Saudi Press Agency, and members of the Council for their huge support,” he said.

Director General of Bulgaria’s BTA Maxim Minchev thanked Azerbaijan for the excellent organization. He also thanked the participants for supporting BTA`s bid to host the 6th Congress.

The congress participants then posed for photographs.

The three-year presidency of the News Agencies World Congress was passed from the Saudi Press Agency to AZERTAC.

Almost 200 guests from 80 countries representing more than 130 leading news agencies of the world from five continents discussed topical problems of media at the 5th News Agencies World Congress in Baku.