A new document on freedom of expression and opinion, adopted May 12 by the 28 foreign ministers of the European Union, presses nearly all the right buttons. Drawing its inspiration from international human rights norms as well as from the EU's treaties and its charter of fundamental rights, the document reaffirms the role of freedom of opinion and expression as "an essential foundation for democracy, rule of law, peace, stability, sustainable inclusive development, and participation in public affairs." It also makes a strong case for free and independent journalism. The ministers committed the EU and member states to the defense of journalists' freedom and safety, and endorsed watchdog journalism as a decisive factor in "uncovering abuses of power, shining a light on corruption, and questioning received opinion."
Greek journalists are on the alert since five small bombs exploded Friday on the doorsteps of the homes of several journalists in Athens. Although the makeshift devices only damaged the buildings' entrances and no one was hurt, the attacks appear to be warning shots in a tense social context where journalists are increasingly in the firing line.
The celebration Tuesday of the 50th anniversary of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) should have been a joyful and lighthearted affair. Dozens of journalists from all parts of the European Union had traveled to Brussels to share memories, new projects, champagne, and petits fours.
In the EU, some countries appear more immune than others to scrutiny and reproach. Anti-terror laws, political and economic concerns, and a lack of common standards all challenge the credibility of the EU's diplomacy. By Jean-Paul Marthoz
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