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GT at Tbilisi media conference 180718George Tsereteli (second from right) at Tbilisi media conference, 18 July 2018TBILISI, 19 July 2018 – OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President George Tsereteli (Georgia) participated this week in the 15th annual South Caucasus Media Conference organized by the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Titled “Quality Journalism for Trustworthy and Credible Information,” the conference brought together more than 60 participants representing government authorities, media, civil society and academia, as well as international experts in Tbilisi, to exchange views on recent changes in the media landscape that have taken place in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

In his opening remarks on Wednesday, the President noted that propaganda and disinformation – or what is today called “fake news” – have been around for centuries, but that through new technologies and a lack of appreciation by the wider public of the varying quality of journalistic work, there is now an increased risk of damaging the credibility of journalism as a whole.

“While we may benefit from huge amounts of information available at our fingertips, information technology is being abused by untold amounts of disinformation,” President Tsereteli said. “We have all seen the perverse effects of ‘fake news’ on domestic and international politics: public debates have become more polarized, public opinion has been influenced, and there are fewer opportunities for an in-depth analysis of our political issues.”

Warning that the instrumentalization of “fake news” as a political tool poses a danger to democracy, Tsereteli noted that everyone benefits from ensuring high professional media standards. He pointed out that journalists and politicians should work together in the interests of good journalism and democracy.

Tsereteli highlighted the OSCE PA’s Berlin Declaration, adopted last week at the close of the 27th Annual Session, which urges action “to combat the growing prevalence of disinformation and propaganda by promoting high-quality journalism, developing norms and standards that apply equally to both traditional and digital platforms and encourage accurate and diverse media content, and ensuring that any efforts to address disinformation and propaganda comply with international legal guarantees of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the media.”

GT with Desir 180718Harlem Désir and George Tsereteli in Tbilisi, 18 July 2018Participants in the Tbilisi conference included Italy’s Ambassador to Georgia Antonio Enrico Bartoli, representing the Italian OSCE Chairmanship, Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani, and Harlem Désir, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. The conference is taking place 18-19 July and consists of sessions devoted to the digital transformation of the media industry and its effects on the practice and quality of journalism, quality of information in the age of “fake news,” regulation and self-regulation in the digital era, and the latest media freedom developments in the South Caucasus.

Tsereteli and Désir held a bilateral meeting on the margins of the conference in which they discussed strengthening co-operation, engaging parliamentarians in countries with media freedom issues and where the safety of journalists is under threat, and strengthening legal frameworks.

For President Tsereteli’s full speech, please click here.