Tale/innlegg | Dato: 02.09.2022 | Utenriksdepartementet
Av: Tidligere utenriksminister Anniken Huitfeldt (Oslo, 2. september)
Utenriksminister Anniken Huitfeldts åpningstale på Nobels fredssenters ytringsfrihetskonferanse.
Sjekkes mot fremføring
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We live in a dangerous moment for peace and democracy.
For a while, we have been witnessing an increase in authoritarian regimes worldwide. We have seen more unconstitutional changes of power. But we have also seen an increase in the use of lawful and democratic means to restrict democracy.
In fact, we have seen more and more threats coming from within democracies. These threats aim to weaken the very foundations of democracy. They seek to restrict independent and competent judiciaries, and limit the civic space. They seek to silence the free and independent media.
We have seen a dramatic increase of disinformation, spread and amplified through online platforms owned by powerful companies with profit in mind.
And then, on 24 February, we witnessed a watershed moment: Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian people’s fight for freedom is also a fight for fundamental values and rights. For democracy in Europe, and beyond. We must continue to stand with Ukraine.
And we must continue to support the photographers, fixers, journalists and other media workers that are risking their lives to document Russian atrocities.
Putin’s war of aggression is a stark reminder of what may ultimately happen when leaders systematically set aside democratic checks and balances. When they embrace corruption and disregard human rights. And – as in Russia’s case – when leaders use disinformation to amplify their propaganda.
In Russia, to spread so called “false information” about the war can lead to 15 years of prison. Dmitry Muratov has been attacked.
Dear Dmitry, I know that you are watching. You had to stay behind in Russia due to Mikhail Gorbachev’s passing.
I deeply appreciated sitting next to you during last year’s Nobel dinner. That night, you showed me a photograph of Gorbachev and yourself, at his bedside in hospital. You pointed out how there were in fact two Nobel peace prize winners in the picture.
In 1993, Gorbachev used part of his Nobel peace prize money to set up Novaya Gazeta. Today, all independent media outlets have been blocked, forced to shut down or into exile – including your newspaper. When reflecting upon Gorbachev’s legacy, the contrast between his support for the free press and today’s Russian leadership becomes painfully clear.
I have been thinking a lot about you these past months, Dmitry. About you and your colleagues. And because of you - it is so important for me to keep stressing that our sanctions and actions are against Putin’s regime, NOT the Russian people.
Since Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, nearly 50 media workers have been killed at work. Most of them were killed in or by authoritarian regimes.
In the Philippines, Maria Ressa is fighting not one, but seven lawsuits. The news site Rappler has been ordered to close down by the courts.
In Afghanistan, nearly 80% of female journalists have fled or been forced and harassed into silence since Taliban seized power.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Norway will continue to support public interest journalism and the protection of journalists. This is one of the priorities in our international engagement for freedom of expression.
Norway’s credibility to promote these issues rests on our own housekeeping: Our Freedom of Expression Commission recently presented its report. In my view, one of its key takeaways is Norway’s particular obligation to protect and promote these values internationally.
70 % of the world’s population live under authoritarian regimes. But I object to the often-used term “authoritarian strong-men”. Only weak leaders feel threatened by the freedom of others and free elections.
There is no such thing as “authoritarian strong-men”. Authoritarianism is in fact a compensation for weakness. The fear of a free and critical press is a sign of weakness.
We must counter this weakness with openness, inclusiveness, trust and truth.