From www.kimandrewelliott.com

Congressional attention to the Azerbaijan foreign radio ban (updated again).

Posted: 02 Dec 2008

"The leaders of a key congressional human rights panel warned the president of Azerbaijan that he risks antagonizing the incoming Obama administration with his plans to shut down U.S. radio news broadcasts coming into the Eurasian nation. 'As you begin your second term and prepare to establish good working relations with President-elect Barack Obama with the goal of strengthening U.S.-Azerbaijani relations, we believe it would send exactly the wrong signal to terminate the FM broadcasts of RFE/RL [Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] and VOA [the Voice of America] in Azerbaijan,' Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, Florida Democrat, and Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, Maryland Democrat, said in a letter this week to President Ilham Aliyev. Mr. Hastings, chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Mr. Cardin, the co-chairman, argued that the congressionally funded American radio stations set an example for Azerbaijani journalists by providing 'up-to-date, objective' news. 'Moreover, as Azerbaijan moves increasingly toward integration with the West, RFE/RL and VOA supply a model of media professionalism, as well as the sort of impartial and innovative programming Azerbaijan's citizens need to remain informed, engaged and competitive,' they said in their letter.' Washington Times, 26 November 2008. See also VOA News, 25 November 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     "The decision regarding suspension of broadcast of foreign radio stations will be made in the second half of December. ... [Nushiravan Maharramli , chairman of National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council] said it is wrong to describe suspension of broadcast of foreign radio stations in Azerbaijan as a political and democratic issue. 'European countries consider it a technical matter. The attitude to our decisions is different as there is no standard situation in Azerbaijan as in Europe. This is simply a legal issue. It has nothing to do with politics.'" Trend News Agency, 27 November 2008.
     Update: "The Council of Europe has come out in support of further broadcasting of foreign radio stations in Azerbaijan. Broadcasting of these radio stations should be suspended since 1 January 2009 in accordance with the relevant decision of the National Broadcasting Council." ABC.AZ, 2 December 2008.
     "'I urge the Azerbaijani authorities to review plans on closing foreign radio stations and issue them a license for broadcasting', says a report of the OSCE special representative on freedom of speech Miklos Kharashti." Today.Az, 2 December 2008.

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