Azerbaijan awaits foreign media to cover Baku 2015

By Nigar Orujova

With every passing day, Azerbaijan is getting closer to the inaugural European Games. With less than 60 days to go Baku is now almost ready to receive guests from all over the world.

This year’s exciting and innovative new multi-sport event in Baku will gather over 6,000 athletes from 50 countries to compete in 20 sports in June 12-28. Azerbaijan has recently facilitated visa regime for guests of Baku 2015.

Moreover, the Games will be broadcast around the globe by nearly 200 international broadcasting companies. Foreign media is welcomed to come and show the world the progress of the young South Caucasus country.

Nearly 700 international and more than 600 local media representatives have applied to get accreditation to cover the first European Games.

A Media Village meeting all technical parameters was established near the National Olympic stadium to ensure media representatives will effectively carry out their activities.

Hikmat Hajiyev, the spokesman to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, announced about this highlighting the approval of the rules for accreditation of foreign media representatives in his interview with AzerTac state news agency.

“In essence, these rules adjust the accreditation of foreign media representatives who want to carry out short-term or long-term activities in Azerbaijan. The rules were set on the basis of the Azerbaijani Constitution, laws “on the Mass Media” and “on Freedom of Information”, and relevant international documents that Azerbaijan is party to,” he said.

He went on to add, that being advanced in nature, the laws of Azerbaijan on “Freedom of Information” and “on the Mass Media” ensure freedom of information and freedom of activity of the mass media.

“The rules were set out taking into consideration the experience of the European Union member states, particularly Eastern European countries. We can note that unlike some other states, the number of documents foreign media representatives who want to receive accreditation in Azerbaijan are required to submit has been reduced, and the process is now quite simplified.

“At the initial stage, those who need accreditation are required to submit a certificate of employment, a photo, a filled-in application form and an ID card. For instance, in many countries, including some Western countries, media accreditation requirements include a state guarantee letter, a bank account statement and numerous other documents. Independent media representatives in Azerbaijan face such problems when applying for accreditation in foreign countries,” he stressed.

According to Hajiyev, one of the most advanced features of these rules is that the decree of the Azerbaijani president on some measures related to the arrangement of e- services of government bodies features the online filling of application forms by foreign media representatives.

At the same time, the accreditation rules provide that accreditation can be cancelled if foreign media representatives carry out any activity against the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of Azerbaijan, or visit the occupied lands of the country. “This is also widespread practice in the world. Azerbaijan is a state that has been subjected to the occupation and aggression of Armenia in breach of international law, and international media representatives should approach this with care and sensitivity,” he stressed.

He further added that unfortunately, some circles are carrying out – at every opportunity – a smear campaign against Azerbaijan in relation to the first European Games. From this point of view the rules of accreditation of foreign media representatives are being deliberately distorted.

About 160 foreign media representatives were accredited in Azerbaijan in 2014, he added. These foreign media representatives carried out their professional journalistic activities in Azerbaijan in an atmosphere of freedom of the press as stipulated by the rule of law.

The geography of foreign media representatives covers the USA, Germany, UK, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Russia, Norway, Iran, Italy, Finland, Malaysia and other countries.

Representatives of the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France Press, BBC, Bloomberg, TRT, Anadolu, Russia, Xinhua, IRNA, Ria Novosti and other foreign media have been carrying out their activities in Azerbaijan on a long-term basis.

“This figure and the activities of foreign media representatives, which cover a wide geography, bear another testimony to the fact that there are all conditions in Azerbaijan for local and foreign media to freely carry out their activities under the country’s laws,” he said.

Hajiyev stressed, that the first European Games is one of the most important mass events that Azerbaijan will host. That is why the process of accreditation for the Games is exceptional in nature. “The organization of accreditation for the European Games is stipulated by the decree of the Azerbaijani president on some measures regarding the organization of the first European Games dated August 8, 2014.”

To ensure the accreditation of foreign media representatives for the first European Games, Azerbaijan is applying the best experience used during such mass international events, the spokesmen said. “It gives us great pleasure to note that experienced international and local professionals are working together at the Operation Committee of the first European Games.”

The accreditation of representatives of foreign media is being carried out by the Operation Committee of the first European Games. Government bodies are providing necessary support to the Operation Committee of the Games, he stressed.

In compliance with the spirit and objectives of the Olympic Charter, the fulfillment of the media-related rules of the International Olympic Committee and the European Olympic Committees has been and will further be ensured, Hajiyev stressed.

“The rules for the accredited media representatives entering Azerbaijan’s territory have been simplified, and international media representatives can enter Azerbaijan’s territory with their accreditation card issued by the Operation Committee of the first European Games and an ID card,” he said.

In general, freedom of the press and thought has been fully provided in Azerbaijan, and there is a completely free atmosphere for local and foreign media representatives to implement their professional activity based on respect for the laws of Azerbaijan, Hajiyev said, adding that international media representatives are eagerly awaited in Azerbaijan to cover the first European Games.

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Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar

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