On January 10, the Union of Publishers in Bulgaria (UPB), member of ENPA, hosted an international conference in Sofia for the launch of a "White Paper on Freedom of the Media in Bulgaria".
The document was presented to an assembly of representatives from diplomatic missions of the EU, Canada and the United States, as well as Bulgarian and international organizations, journalists from Bulgarian and foreign media.
The event highlighted the threats to Media pluralism and Press independence in Bulgaria. The White Paper has been following the development of this difficult situation since 2006, a time when Bulgaria ranked 36th in relation to level of Media freedom. Bulgaria subsequently fell down to 113th place in 2016 and 109th in 2017.
In that connection, UPB Chairman Theodore Zahov stated that: “The pressure on independent media in Bulgaria has been systematic for 10 years and is so sophisticated that some people don’t grasp it, while others don’t believe it".
The UPB White Paper, available here, offers several possible solutions to the problem.
ENPA made sure to offer support and solidarity to the UPB through the voice of its Vice-President Mr. Valdo Lehari jr., who was present at the conference in Sofia.
He stated the following: “We call on the EU, all the institutions - parliament, commission, national decision-makers, to analyse the risks and concerns that the UPB has highlighted in this White Paper presented today, which could put our democratic values in jeopardy. We hope that the recommendations in the paper will be adequately addressed by concrete steps which will ensure diverse media landscape in Bulgaria, free from any governmental pressure on journalism”.
The statement can be read in its entirety further below.
The UPB considered the event a success in terms of raising awareness regarding Press freedom issues facing the independent Media in Bulgaria. You can read their press release here.
The full event was covered by BiT Television and can be viewed here.
Media Freedom in Bulgaria
On behalf of all ENPA members and ENPA President Carlo Perrone and as Vice President of ENPA, I would like to express our strongest solidarity with our member the Union of Publishers in Bulgaria.
At a time when Bulgaria will start its Presidency of the Council of the EU, press publishers across Europe are very concerned about the situation in certain EU countries where press freedom is under serious threat.
We call on EU and national decision makers to analyse the risks and concerns that UBP has highlighted in its White Paper which could put our democratic values in jeopardy. ENPA strongly advocates for media pluralism, editorial independence and an economically sustainable press sector.
ENPA therefore hope that the recommendations presented by UBP will be adequately addressed by concrete steps which will ensure a harmonious and diverse media landscape in Bulgaria, free from any government pressure or intimidation on journalism.
ENPA is open to a constructive and open debate in order to build-up sustainable solutions that could improve the actual situation, by putting press freedom at the core of media policy in Bulgaria and by re-establishing it as a pillar of European democracy.