Ukraine on the way to Europe

German poet Friedrich Hölderlin wrote: “But where the danger is, also grows the saving power.” This formulation, despite its seeming romanticism, carries in itself a profound concept, which is of high importance, in particular, for Ukrainian journalists and media.

Last week, the press attache of the EU Delegation in Ukraine David Stulik in an interview for EaP Media Freedom Watch stated that concerning Ukraine in the EU increases the number of applications relating to restrictions of the freedom of speech, etc. “The second indicator is our annual report on progress in meeting the commitments Ukraine has undertaken in the Association Agenda. In the most recent of such documents for 2012, we also see growth of anxiety and increased criticism in regard to media freedom,” – said Mr. Stulik.

At the same time, he is sure, in a journalistic environment consolidation and the desire to follow professional standards is enhancing. That is certainly a positive factor. “Especially when compared to some other post-Soviet countries. Of course, you need to be on top. But again, the situation in Ukraine with this issue isn’t so bad”, – said the press attaché of the EU Delegation to Ukraine.

Of course, the comparison with Russia, Belarus and Turkmenistan in the field of journalists’ rights (i.e. the right of citizens to know) was, is, and hopefully will be in Ukraine’s favor in any case. But if we want – and we extremely want – to become a rightful member of the European family, it’s clearly not enough.

So far, it is too early to talk about the normal security for journalists. The story of beating of journalist Olga Snitsarchuk from “Channel 5” during the disturbances in Kiev on May 18; threats related with professional activity; poor access to public (official) data – all this are constant companions of today’s work of Ukrainian journalist.

But as long as we – all of the society – do not remove vestiges of Soviet-Stalinist system the situation will not change. It is a fact, repeatedly confirmed, not only by attempts to reform the media or civil rights.

Soviets, as they say, have put down roots so deep that they could not be uprooted even for the past 22 years of independence. Thus, mutations of Soviets acquired in some places monstrous forms.

But there is always a chance. The first is the one, of which David Stulik said above – it is a corporate journalistic solidarity.

Yes, many of us are dependent on so-called investor. Even more we depend of the desires of public. From thing, which in ancient Rome was called “… and circuses”.

But the growing trade union movement of journalists, association in informal alliances proves that we are not giving up. On the contrary, we are getting stronger, smarter, braver and more professional.

The Second Chance, which lies outside the field of our direct capabilities, is the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU.

Certainly, it is naive to expect that the European media standards at one time will prevail in the minds of Ukrainian media moguls and journalists themselves. But when the process is launched, it will be impossible to stop. And more and more owners and employees will be working in the right field – balanced information, publishing only accurate and/or repeatedly confirmed data.

And the government will be obliged to respond to media reports, instead of wafting aside the exposures in corruption of officials and politicians like the annoying flies. And when the media publications will again begin to affect the lives, then we – Ukrainian journalists – will be able to honestly say: “We are regaining the status of the fourth power.”

In the meantime, the path is very long and tortuous. And there are lots of potholes on it. One of such potholes is intellectual piracy, given that our country has recently received one of the highest places in this sad nomination…

Perhaps, the law on transparency of media owners will straighten this pass a little. Unless, of course, it isn’t applied on the principle of selective law, but in respect of everyone.

In addition, I’d like to emphasize, that in Ukraine a number of Internet users is growing in a very fast pace. During January-June 2013, according just to official data, the number of Internet users equaled 5.4 million, which is 20% more than in the first half of 2012.

Taking into account that the statistical base, which is used in Ukraine, also requires a significant improvement, it should be noted that 5.4 million people – that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Experts in fact believe that in a few years, the depth of penetration of the Internet in the country will reach the level of 70% and will be over it.

Hence, almost all active citizens will obtain the information from the Internet and the long-awaited end of the era of TV dominance will come.

And the information on the Internet requires a respectful attitude, in the first place, from those who produce it. In the second – respect for journalists.

And the new rules, which will be introduced after Association with the EU, will be simply necessary.

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