TALLINN - Deputy secretary general global affairs at the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mart Volmer is to take part on Friday in a high-level conference in Vienna focusing on the protection of journalists.
Volmer said that Estonia knows at first hand what it is like living under authoritarian power without freedom of speech or press.
"Journalists have a crucial role in all societies because freedom of the media is necessary for the functioning of democracy and for making informed decisions. And we know how much authoritarian rulers want to silence free media," Volmer said. He added that Estonia would not have come this far without free journalism and the role journalism plays in the development of a society.
Estonia helps independent media all over the world and in recent months following the start of Russia's brutal extensive war against Ukraine, it has helped relocate journalists from Russia to Estonia.
Volmer said that Estonia continues to issue humanitarian visas to Russian and Belarusian journalists and defenders of human rights.
"We also have an agreement with regard to the number of residence permits issued to journalists in peril after have been accredited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," the deputy secretary general said.
In addition, Estonia continues to support media freedom, freedom of speech and the work of journalists by contributing financially to the Global Media Defense Fund, International Fund for Public Interest Media, European Foundation for Democracy, Digital Defenders Partnership and the International Lifeline Fund.
The conference is organized by the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UNESCO and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The event takes place on the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists, the purpose of which is to reduce attacks against journalism and fight impunity. Concrete promises are sought at the event from states regarding the protection of journalists.