In connection with the recent fall Greece by 38 positions compared to last year in the world press freedom rankings (Greece is now ranked 108th out of 180 countries and last among European countries in the corresponding Reporters Without Borders list for 2022),
and accusations of spying on journalists (the Koukaki case and the Predator software), a meeting was held between the Vice-President of the European Commission, Vera Jurova (responsible for values and transparency), and the representative of the Greek government, Giannis Economou.
Despite the careful wording that goes along with these statements, it is clear that Yurova has set the whole agenda of issues that show that the free press in Greece is in the grip, and Mr. Economou acts as an apologist for the authorities and is trying to convince the European Commission that can be done to ensure the freedom of journalists. In any case, Greece seems to be under renewed scrutiny by the European Commission on such a burning issue as freedom of the press.
In particular, the vice president of the commission referred to the concerns expressed in various recent reports from freedom of the media organizations, including changes in legislation regarding the criminalization of disinformation and the management of the national press organization.
According to the conclusions of the vice president’s office, Vera Yurova stressed the importance of implementing the recent recommendations against SLAPP and supporting the directive. She also mentioned the forthcoming European Media Freedom Act. She insisted on the importance of self-regulation, which may be encouraged by law, and adherence to professional standards.
Murder of Karaiwaz and government promises
The two politicians then focused on the safety of journalists under the rule of law. EU in 2021, the Deputy Minister outlined a series of measures to implement the recommendations of the commission on the safety of journalists, in which several ministries are involved. In this context, the European official welcomed the concrete efforts. In the same vein, G. Economou described additional measures to support local media and transparency of media ownership.
The Vice President insisted on transparency and fairness in the distribution of public resources, including public advertising. The Deputy Minister informed the Vice President that Greece is going to adopt new legislation that will deal with these issues and set additional goals and transparent criteria in this direction.
The Vice President referred to the preparation of the 2022 Rule of Law Report, as well as the concerns expressed in various recent media freedom reports by organizations, including legislative changes related to the criminalization of national disinformation and governance. She stressed the importance of implementing the latest recommendations against SLAPP and supporting the directive.
She also mentioned the forthcoming European Media Freedom Act. She insisted on the importance of self-regulation, which may be encouraged by law, and adherence to professional standards.
War in Ukraine
Yurova and Economou discussed Russia’s war against Ukraine and the importance of decisive joint action by the EU, agreed on the need to support front-line journalists and combat Russian military propaganda.
The vice-president of the commission said that the commission has spent more than 6 million euros to support journalists in Ukraine, including protective equipment, training, psychological support and relocation if necessary.