Azerbaijan 'winning information war' with Armenia

Thu 30 December 2010 06:01 GMT | 10:01 Local Time

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Ilham Aliyev

President Ilham Aliyev has said that Azerbaijan is winning the information war with the international Armenian lobby.

He was speaking after receiving the Journalists' Friend award at a ceremony in the Gulustan Palace on Wednesday.

Azerbaijan's success in the information war can be seen in recent "hysterical behaviour" by the Armenians, the president said in his acceptance speech.

"Today I can say with confidence that we are winning the fight against Armenia and the Armenian lobby. This is proven by their highly strung and hysterical behaviour. Both the press and the increasing number of Azerbaijan’s friends in the world play a decisive role. Azerbaijan is already engaged in offensive diplomacy. We have all the resources for this. Information warfare is our priority. We must make maximum use of modern potential in this area."

Azerbaijan remains in a state of war with Armenia, as Armenian forces occupy a swathe of Azerbaijani territory, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. A ceasefire was signed in 1994, but negotiations still continue on a long-term peace agreement.

President Aliyev said in his speech said that Azerbaijan came under criticism because of its independent policy.

"The main reason for the smear campaign is our country's independent policy, as it doesn’t give in to pressure. As some forces have no leverage within Azerbaijan, they resort to dirty tricks. We respond to all defamatory forces: We will not deviate from our strategic path. As pressure increases, we become more steadfast."

Elsewhere in his acceptance speech, President Aliyev talked about the development of the media in Azerbaijan.

"I will strive to continue my work to develop a free, independent press, and will always be active in carrying out democratic reforms in Azerbaijan."

The president went on to claim that the country had freedom of speech and the press which had been made possible by Azerbaijan's independence.

He said that, although an independent, free press had appeared in Azerbaijan in the early years of independence, its systematic development had become possible after his father, Heydar Aliyev, came to power for the second time. A radical change in this area began in 1998 when the then president abolished press censorship. Azerbaijan is continuing comprehensive measures to strengthen freedom of speech and the press, which plays a special role in building the rule of law.

"Without a free press the rule of law is impossible in Azerbaijan," the president said. He said that the press was continuing to develop successfully.

On libel, which the OSCE and other bodies say should no longer be a criminal offence, the president said: "I am a supporter of fair criticism but there should be no room for libel and insults. I am pleased that instances of this are decreasing."

Describing journalism as difficult and challenging, the president said he would continue to take important steps to solve the social problems of media workers. He said that measures taken on this in 2010 would continue in subsequent years. The aim of this work is to contribute to solving journalists' social problems.

Expressing his gratitude for the prize, President Aliyev said that Azerbaijan would continue to support the media.

The Journalists' Friend award was presented to the president by Press Council Chairman Aflatun Amashov. 

Amashov said that the award was granted to outstanding state and government figures and those who took care of the media. The last recipient of this award was Ilham Aliyev's father, the late president Heydar Aliyev.

The winner of the 2010 award was selected through a media survey by the Ruh Committee to Protect Journalists. The survey involved 93 media overall: 30 daily and 19 weekly newspapers, two magazines, 11 news agencies, 13 media organizations, eight information portals, seven TV and three radio channels.

Respondents were asked "Which sociopolitical figure do you think was a friend of journalists in 2010?" Eighty-one per cent of the media recognized Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev as the most deserving candidate for the award.

Aflatun Amashov said the survey showed Azerbaijani journalists' high evaluation of the successful policy of President Ilham Aliyev towards the media, his attention towards and care for journalists and journalistic organizations.

Fifty journalists received awards for their work, granted by the Presidential Fund for State Support for Media Development. The head of the presidential administration, Ramiz Mehdiyev, presented the awards to the winning journalists.

1 news.az,  APA

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