Aliyev: ANS may re-open if it follows rules
President Ilham Aliyev said on Wednesday that ANS TV shut down last week may continue operation if it complies with the existing regulations and warnings.
“I believe that all these issues may be solved in a working manner and based on goodwill,” he told AzTV channel while commenting on the situation with media in Azerbaijan that has lately been in public spotlight. “If the criticism and warnings are taken into account, the channel may continue its activity.”
Aliyev said he had always supported ANS. “I have always stood beside the channel at a time of hardship, as I am convinced that strengthening free and independent media in Azerbaijan is crucial.
“At the same time, every issue should be solved in accord with the law. Everyone is equal before the law. From a rank-and-file citizen to the head of state - and from a regular journalist to the head of a TV channel – everyone should comply with the law.”
The ANS TV and Radio Company was shut down on Friday over violations.
The president said television channels should honor substantiated suggestions and criticism of state bodies and the broadcasting council (the body regulating local media).
President Aliyev went on to say that the political developments in the country are marking positive trends. “We are conducting both political and economic reforms, as the former should complement the latter. If strong public control and free society fail to shape up, our economic achievements have no future.”
The head of state regarded Friday’s eviction of several organizations from a building downtown Baku, including opposition daily Azadlig, as a merely technical matter, saying he is against politicizing the issue. Some political parties, he said, are trying to take advantage of this for their political ends.
“In fact, the Azadlig newspaper has been offered an office even with better conditions than the ones housing other newspapers.”
The authorities say the premises had been unlawfully occupied, citing unpaid rent.
Aliyev said protecting freedom of speech and press is a priority for his government.
“We have achieved great success in this area. There is freedom of expression and press in the country and no one should doubt this,” he added.*