Former prime minister
of Finland and EU insider on Brexit
Alexander Stubb told another packed AEJ-UK meeting he
believes Brexit is lose-lose for both the UK and the rest of the EU. And to
avoid further damage the former finance minister and leader of Finland’s
centre-right National Coalition Party has his own blueprint for a “soft
Brexit”. William Horsley made these notes on his
ideas discussed on 19 Sept. Before stepping
down as finance minister and party leader, Stubb served Finland as trade and
Europe Minister, foreign minister, MEP and adviser to EU Commission President
Retired senior UK civil servant and trade negotiator on
Sir Simon Fraser, former permanent under-secretary at the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, provided an insider’s view of Brexit at one
of the largest AEJ-UK meetings in recent years. The 5 Sept. lunch meeting was
packed with members and invited foreign correspondents to hear and question
Sir Simon on the details, complications and issues involved in the upcoming
process of UK extraction from the European Union. For more on this meeting
please see this blog by
AEJ member Jonathan Fryer and this report by BBC
News. Sir Simon retired in July 2015 after a long career with the FCO
including secondment to the European Commission; he is now managing partner
at business consultancy Flint Global.
French Minister Axelle
Lemaire on Brexit
A French government minister provided the AEJ UK with a stark and critical
assessment of the UK referendum campaign, the UK government’s post-vote
strategy, and future prospects for both the UK and the rest of Europe.
Axelle Lemaire, Minister for Digital
Affairs in the French Ministry for the Economy and Industry since April 2014, spoke in July at the AEJ UK’s first meeting
since the referendum vote in which the British public voted 52% to 48% to
leave the EU.
UK chairman William Horsley made these notes of an
animated and informative exchange on July 14, Bastille Day.
AEJ condemns killing of British MP
Jo Cox, the MP for Batley and
Spen, was killed on June 16 in Birstall, West Yorkshire.
The Association of European Journalists issued a statement condemning the
murder of the 41-year-old Labour Member of the British Parliament who was
shot and killed in her Yorkshire constituency. Jo Cox had reportedly received
threats of violence before the deadly attack. Such acts of extreme violence
can have a chilling effect on the robust exchange of arguments, opinions and
information which are the essence of open democratic societies. The UK media
as well as political parties rightly agreed to temporarily suspend the EU
referendum campaign as a sign of respect to Ms Cox, who was a wife, a mother
of two young girls, and a newly-elected MP respected for her integrity,
tolerance and compassionate concern for the plight of Syrian refugee
children. Remembering the death of the leading Swedish politician Anna Lindh
in 2003, we deeply regret that a woman politician has again been murdered
during an EU-related referendum campaign. Jo Cox’s death, at the height of a
fiercely-fought and sometimes aggressive campaign before the June 24th
referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, reminds us of the
importance of tolerance and rationality as well as passion in the conduct of
public life, and in the reporting and debating of controversial matters in
all kinds of media.
A selection of writings with an AEJ connection
Kevin d’Arcy, former AEJ UK executive
secretary, has an article in the New European newspaper Issue #10 on the
EU and its communications.
Fryer, an AEJ member of long standing, writes this blog
Firdevs Robinson's writing is now accessible on FirdevsTalkTurkey.com
William Horsley blogs on BBC
Anthony Robinson: Corruption
and the long arm of Moscow in central Europe. Blog from the AEJ
Congress in Sibiu, Romania: 6-7
November 2015 (10 November 2015)
are held at the European Parliament’s London Office (Europe House, 32 Smith
Square, SW1P 3EU) and usually start at 12:30. AEJ meetings are open to journalists,
academics and Europe specialists and guests. Pre-registration is necessary by
email to firstname.lastname@example.org. A fee of £25 is charged to
cover the cost of refreshments - £10 for under-25s and free admission may be
extended to students on a discretionary basis.
8 November 2016
Former Turkish diplomat, OECD executive and now head of an energy
and finance consultancy in London. Mr. Öğütçü is a
former diplomat, prime ministerial adviser and OECD executive who is now an
influential public speaker and adviser to governments on geopolitics, energy
and finance. His high-level career reflects Turkey’s long-standing aspiration
to be respected as a model of democracy in the Islamic world and an economic
and diplomatic powerhouse. But after July’s failed coup and the sweeping
crackdown on President Erdogan’s opponents and alleged human rights abuses,
is Turkey heading for isolation and yet more troubled times? Mehmet Öğütçü will share his thoughts about
what really happened on July 15th, the impact on his
country of the subsequent purge and state of emergency, the extent of damage
to Turkey’s alliance with the West, and new risks arising from Turkey’s
entanglement in conflicts in Syria and Iraq. As a convinced internationalist
he will also present his ideas on possible damage limitation, answering the
question: ‘Can Turkey get back on a stable, democratic path, and if so
how?’ Mehmet Öğütçü is
chairman of Global Resources Partnership, a London-based international
29 November 2016
First Minister of Scotland and now SNP international and Europe spokesman in
the House of Commons.
For previous speakers’ details,
see News. For a list of our
recent lunchtime guests, see Past
EP’s UK website gives details of its own events, of
which visitors may be notified by email.
AEJ deplores abrupt closing of leading Hungarian newspaper
The AEJ has
raised concerns about the
sudden closure of Népszabadság, Hungary’s leading daily newspaper and one of
the last critical voices in the country’s national media. The newspaper was
suddenly closed on Oct. 8, prompting thousands of Budapest residents to take
to the streets to protest at what many see as a new attack on press freedom
AEJ calls for justice in the murder of Anna
The AEJ has joined a
demand for open justice and renewed investigations by Russian authorities
into the Russian journalist’s murder. Marking the 10th anniversary
of Politkovskaya’s killing, the AEJ and 7 other journalistic and press freedom
organizations also called for an end to impunity in the killings of other
journalists in Russia. Politkovskaya was killed on Oct. 7 2006 in her Moscow
apartment block – she had reported on numerous atrocities, torture and other
human rights abuses in Chechnya. The AEJ is one of the partners with the
Council of Europe in the online Platform
for the safety of journalists. For more information see here.
in Council of Europe consultations on Turkey’s abuse of emergency laws
The AEJ and 7 other European journalistic and press freedom organisations
have met with the
Secretary-General of the Council of Europe for intensive discussions
about the critical situation for independent journalism in Turkey. In the
wake of July’s imposition of a state of emergency, there were calls at the
meeting in Strasbourg on Oct. 6 for urgent action by Turkish authorities,
European governments and the Council of Europe to prevent torture and
mistreatment, ensure the exercise of impartial and professional justice, and
to end widespread abuse of the emergency laws. See the AEJ report and the Council
of Europe statement for more information.
freedom groups denounce ‘silencing’ of media
The G-9 Platform of media and press freedom organisations in
Turkey has issued a statement
and appeal “A Coup Against Journalists” condemning the wholesale closures of
media, detentions and sackings of journalists, and other oppressive measures
taken under state of emergency laws in Turkey. The international AEJ fully
supports the statement and appeal which can be found here.
the latest information and alerts about violations of media freedom and
attacks on the safety of journalists in Turkey please see Council of
Europe’s Platform for the safety of journalists (www.coe.int).
These alerts are sent directly and quickly to the state authorities in Turkey
and other countries concerned. Their responses to allegations of violations
are published on the platform. The AEJ is working closely on this day by day
with the EFJ/IFJ, Article 19, Committee to Protect Journalists Index on
Censorship, IPI and Reporters Without Borders. William Horsley, UK chairman
and AEJ international Vice President and Media Freedom Representative, notes
arbitrary and sweeping arrests of journalists and closures of media outlets
in Turkey are alarming and urgent. Many journalists who have not been
arrested are obliged to lie low and not speak in public because of the dangers.”
Horsley has an assessment of Turkey’s actions under the state of emergency on
the international AEJ website.
There is also a petition from Amnesty
International calling on President Erdogan to uphold human rights in Turkey,
even in a state of emergency. The petition
here has options to sign - http://bit.ly/turkeyrights
AEJ protest against Zaman seizure
On 4 March
the Turkish authorities seized the Istanbul headquarters offices of Zaman, Turkey’s largest circulation
newspaper and one of the most outspokenly critical voices in the Turkish
media. The action was taken on the basis of a court decision which failed to
provide any proper evidence to justify taking the newspaper into forced
administration. The Association of European Journalists (AEJ) condemned this blatant attack on press freedom. The seizure of
the premises of Zaman with the use
of massive police force came only three days before the March 7 EU leaders‘
summit with Turkey. The AEJ pressed the European Union and governments of its
member states to forcefully condemn the seizure of Zaman and to demand that Turkey should stop the widespread
judicial harassment and other attacks on press freedom, free all members of
the media wrongly held in detention, and drop the ongoing criminal cases
against numerous editors and journalists.
Celia Hampton, our long-time secretary, treasurer and website editor, passed
away on May 17 after a
protracted illness. Celia was a
friend and colleague to many AEJ members and contributed an enormous
amount to the AEJ in both the UK and internationally. Despite increasing frailty and ill health
she continued to write regularly on her specialty legal matters before
finally succumbing to the pulmonary illness which dogged much of her life in
recent years. Please see our Obituaries section for more
information and personal recollections.
World Press Freedom Day
A number of AEJ national sections marked World Press Freedom Day on May 3 as
reported on www.aej.org
Several sections produced reports
and the AEJ Turkey took part as a member of the G-9 Platform, Freedom for
The 2016 World Press Freedom Day conference in Helsinki on May 2-4 was marked
by a clamour of voices
calling on Europe to recognise its own failings. William Horsley, AEJ UK
Chairman and International AEJ Representative for Media Freedom, has these
reflections on the issues.
AEJ Greece awards Journalism Prize to
The prize, made by the Greek section of the AEJ, was awarded to Peter Kramer,
former AEJ Secretary-General. It was presented by HE Mr Prokopios
Pavlopoulos, President of the Hellenic Republic, on 20 April. Congratulations
to Peter, a great friend of ours. See www.aej.org and europeanbusinessreview.eu
(1 May 2016)
AEJ hails new commitments on journalism
The AEJ welcomed the new set of political commitments to protect journalism
and the safety of journalists adopted by the Council of Europe on 13 April.
See www.aej.org, the text
of the recommendation
and the Council of Europe press
release. (14 April 2016)
Concern over Romania’s public
A hasty reform of the
legislation governing the heavily indebted public sector broadcasting
organisation has raised AEJ concerns. (10 March 2016)
EU to examine Poland’s highest
The European Commission announced a preliminary assessment of the rule of law
in Poland in light of the changes made to the Constitutional Court’s statute.
Poland media law
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda signed the media bill into law on 7
January. Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, had
asked President Duda to open
a dialogue with the Council on article 10 ECHR before signing it. See aej.org. Die Presse has published the AEJ’s open letter to the Polish
President. See aej.org.
(11 January 2016) and this summary
by the AEJ Media Freedom Representative. (5 January 2016)
Europe’s press freedom record in 2015
by Politico’s Alex Spence catalogues the arrests, assaults, murders and legal
restraints suffered by Europe’s journalists in 2015. “An awful year.” See aej.org (31 December 2015)
AEJ is an independent, self-funding association for journalists, writers and
specialists in European affairs. The UK section is part of a Europe-wide network of some 20 national
sections across Europe, with more than 1000 members in all.
UK section, we arrange for leading newsmakers from across Europe to give
briefings to us about once a month, over lunch at the office of
the European Parliament in London. We also organise special events, such
as seminars, from time to time.
The AEJ offers journalists the
chance to be part of a network of media professionals and experts on European
issues. Membership can provide valuable mutual support for individual journalists
(it is open to both UK and non-UK nationals). If you would like to join,
please go to the Membership page.
We are not tied to any
institutional or political group but are recognised by the Council of Europe,
the OSCE and UNESCO. Our goals are to advance knowledge and debate
on European affairs and to uphold media freedom.
Internationally, the AEJ has an
active programme of professional activities and the annual AEJ Congress
is a forum for debate on matters of common concern to journalists across the
continent. A high priority is given to the AEJ's Media Freedom Project.
AEJ Media Freedom Project
AEJ works to protect freedom of expression and independent journalism by
bringing issues to the attention of governments and advising
inter-governmental organisations on behalf of our members. The AEJ's Media
Freedom Representative is William
Horsley, a former BBC foreign correspondent and the current
chairman of the UK section.
Since the AEJ Media
Freedom Survey in
to Freedom?), the
AEJ has published Europe-wide surveys that reveal the erosion of press
freedom through physical assaults, wrongful imprisonment, oppressive laws,
and unacceptable political and commercial pressures.
The AEJ is an observer at the Council of Europe. Since 2 April 2015, it has been one of the
five partners in the Council’s online platform for early
warning of and rapid response to attacks on the media. For more information,
see Media Freedom.
actively supports the ongoing efforts of UNESCO, the UN Agency with a mandate to
safeguard media freedom, to implement the draft UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the
Issue of Impunity (text). The AEJ Media Freedom Representative
authored the OSCE's Safety of
Journalists Guidebook setting
out the obligations of participating states to protect the security of
journalists, including those using the Internet.
campaigns and activities can also be tracked on the Media Freedom and News pages of the international AEJ
AEJ and the Council of Europe
AEJ takes part in the policy work of the Council of Europe (CoE) on key issues of media freedom as a participant in the Steering
Committee on Media and Information
Society and the Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and the Safety
of Journalists. It works on behalf of its members
across Europe to hold the CoE and its 47 member states to their commitments
on media freedom and freedom of expression.
read further, please go to Media Freedom.
Media visits to the European Parliament
EP’s London Office has a small budget to offset some of the travel and hotel costs
incurred by journalists when visiting the European Parliament. Only a limited
number can be helped in this way, so you must first be invited by the UK
Office before seeking reimbursement (see EP website).