Our governments should cooperate to protect media freedom, adapting to new realities and addressing new threats as they appear, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Tuesday. Ioannou was addressing a Democratic Quality Forum entitled “Democratic Quality: Challenges of Democracy in the 21st century”, at the “Circulo de Bellas Artes” cultural centre in Madrid. “The main concern of nations should be to understand the needs of civil society in this rapidly changing environment, promoting strong political competition and reducing the democratic deficit,” he said. In this context, he added, it is necessary “to continuously review and modernise electoral legislative framework as well as making the most of the possibilities offered by technology, always ensuring security in cyberspace and facilitating the participation of all citizens groups.” The aim, Ioannou noted, “should be stronger political parties, more representative electoral systems and fair election processes so that citizens can feel that their vote really counts and they and play an active role in politics.” Another necessary step, the Interior Minister said, is “promoting quality journalism and independent media.” “Citizens need free media to provide them with accurate information and substantiated analyses so that, among other things, they can determine if governments are acting in accordance with good governance rules and whether they are doing a good job or whether improvements must be made,” he added. In all places where journalists and news organisations are free to do their job independently and with safety, societies prosper and communities are in a position to recognise the problems that need to be addressed, he pointed out. Ioannou also referred to attacks against the human rights of journalists, noting that the view that murders happen only somewhere far away and they mainly concern war correspondents is not correct. According to him there are many examples that show that the lack of safety of the people who work in news and information “has no borders.” He also spoke of misinformation and propaganda which appear in social media and have become more targeted. “Our governments should cooperate to protect media freedom, adapting to new realities and addressing new threats as they appear,” he said. Establishing alliances and realistic strategies to enhance media independence, editorial freedom and strengthen pluralism is of vital importance for our democracy’s overall prosperity, he said. Ioannou further outlined the ongoing efforts in Cyprus to reform local administration, aiming to create stronger municipalities and community clusters, with administrative and financial independence in line with the guidelines of the European Map of Local Administration, with enhanced internal audit and transparency mechanisms, increased level of responsibilities and a greater participation of citizens in decision making.
Source: Cyprus News Agency