YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–During a press conference–Wednesday–participants of a day-long mass media strike in Armenia–discussed their concerns and serious breaches of free speech as they pertain to the Armenian government.
President of the Yerevan Press Club Boris Navasardian said that only Hayk–Aravot–Molorak and Respublika Armenia newspapers had not joined the strike. All of the mentioned newspapers–according to Navasardian– tried to present the action as an expression of irrational emotions in the realm of Armenian media–and they tried to paint this serious step as a behind-the-scenes game aimed at dislodging harmony within the field.
Moreover they claimed this was a move to declare war on the newly-created Department of Information and its chief Garegin Ghoukaszian–he said. They said it was "even more senseless to please the leadership with not issuing newspapers."
According to Navasardian the action is no way related to the situation on the information field of Armenia–and is simply a result of disdainful attitude of the authorities toward various media outlets. "Soon we are going to mark a year since the statement by the former Prime Minister Armen Sarkisian who said that non of the mass media problems will be decided without participation of mass media representatives. However after that statement all of the issues facing the mass media outlets were settled without their participation," Navasardian emphasized.
The news conference participants noted that despite the fact that the action–being the first of its kind–was organized in speedy manner–in fact–it was enough to raise a surge of protest of the mass media. The dismantling of several news stands by the Yerevan Mayor’s Office has become that very flash–editors said. Today we need the unity of the mass media as never before. All mass media have common problems–that is–high debts to the Periodika printing house and Haymamoul press distributing agency. If it goes on like that the existence of free press and the press in Armenia in general will be put into question.
According to the participants of the news conference–the Armenian authorities should be very concerned with the current situation in the media–because the free press is the sole entity which can glorify or doom the image of a democratic state with reporting the truth on the occurrences within that democracy. Therefore–the government should listen to the needs of the free media. "We ask nothing from the authorities–but demand that they put no obstacles in our work and to adopt a series of laws allowing the press to function in a normal way," Vigen Sargssian–editor-in-chief of the Ayzhem newspaper stressed.
The news conference then grew into discussion of further steps to be taken by strikers. The strikers decided to wait for the government’s response for one or two days and if necessary to continue the action until all problems are settled.
Newspapers taking part in the strike are Azg Daily–Hayastani Hanrapetutiun–Golos Armenii–Hayots Ashkhar–Noyan Tapan–Ayzhem–Iravounk–Armenpress–Yerevan–Novoyi Vremya and Snark. Also participating in and supporting the strike are the Yerevan Press Club–the National Press Club–the Armenian Journalists Union and other media oriented organizations.
The strikers refrained from reporting news of the government and they did not publish or issue reports on the day of the strike.