Saida Mirziyoyeva spoke at the opening of the 23rd Annual Central Asian Media Conference, organized by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.
At the opening of the conference, which has been held at the International Hotel in Tashkent since September 9, September 10, the Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Mass Media Foundation of the Republic of Uzbekistan Saida Mirziyoyev made a welcoming speech.
Below is the text of her speech:
“Good afternoon, dear friends and colleagues!
I would like to thank the organizers and personally Ms Ribeiro for the invitation to this important conference.
In 2016, we set a course for transparency and openness in the activities of state authorities, and over these five years we can already sum up interim results. In my opinion, the overwhelming majority of the mass media in Uzbekistan disposed of the freedom of speech with dignity.
Fact-checking, timely and truthful news, coverage of problems, training in new digital formats, independence from government support – over these five years, the media have developed rapidly and efficiently. We have gone from stagnation to competitive, confidently standing on our feet, cited in foreign media outlets. And all this is under the scrutiny of the international community.
Now in Uzbekistan there are more than 1,900 media outlets in eight languages, which means that every significant news immediately acquires a republican, and sometimes even a global scale, no matter what region it comes from.
Uzbekistan is in the TOP-5 countries in terms of the number of open data sources. According to statistics from Open Data Inception, we are on a par with the United States, Spain, France and the United Kingdom in terms of this indicator. There is full access to information on public procurement, which often leads to rather sensitive discussions. Each ministry and department has a press service responsible for answering journalists’ questions. More officials are giving their public comments on the events.
We see how the country is changing thanks to freedom of speech. One of the main achievements is the participation of citizens in the political and public life of the country. People value governance and voice their opinions, critically and fearlessly. A stable civil society is being formed.
The topic we are discussing today is important and timely. The very fact that Uzbekistan takes part in such conferences clearly indicates that we have passed the very first stage of the formation of freedom of speech – the rejection of censorship and self-censorship.
But I know that what is now worrying the world community is also our problem – hate speech, disunity of people, fakes, propaganda of violence, disinformation. Of course, we must now make every effort to jointly solve these problems. This is a new challenge that requires adequate and modern solutions.
We already know that it is impossible to achieve positive results by banning publications, blocking social media, regulating speech, tightening laws. All this has the opposite effect and only exacerbates the situation.
I believe that the more voices will sound, the more choice and opportunity to check any information for accuracy. We need to instill in people immunity to manipulation. It is not easy to compete in the information market – the truth always loses to loud headlines. But most of our media understand that the trust and respect of the reader is capital.
In this informational confrontation between truth and lies, the solidarity of the journalistic and blogging communities plays a huge role. In November 2019, as you know, the Public Fund for Support and Development of National Mass Media was created, and I can confidently add “solidarity” to this.
Oybek, [10.09.21 12:00]
This is a progressive and ambitious team of journalists and bloggers. This team includes people who are not indifferent to the country’s development. Together we worked to revise outdated laws that no longer reflect modern reality. We have achieved the exclusion of articles for libel and insult from the Criminal Code, which were more a method of intimidation than actually working laws. We have worked responsibly and together in the pandemic.
I think we have all the resources to counter new threats. The most important thing is to develop a joint strategy with the professional international community.
We are always open to cooperation and welcome all projects aimed at the development of mass media.
Freedom of speech in any country is, first of all, political will. But no state can do without freedom of speech and press and at the same time remain progressive. This is a reciprocal process. That is why journalists have great responsibility to create an information agenda that moves the country forward, rather than throwing it back. It brings people together, does not separate them.
Thank you for your attention, and I really hope that this conference will be useful for everyone and will provide new ideas and solutions,” Saida Mirziyoyeva said.