Freedom of expression, in all its forms, is the very essence of democracy. Only with a thriving, free and independent media landscape, we can hold governments, businesses and society at large accountable. And precisely for this fundamental right, far too often, journalists and media workers are attacked, persecuted, harassed, or intimidated for carrying out their work. Most journalists are not wounded in the heat of war coverage, but suffer violence in our immediate surroundings. In 2018 alone, 94 journalists and media staff were killed in work-related incidents as reported by the International Federation of Journalists. Hundreds more have been subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention without ever having been tried in a court.
EU foreign affairs ministers, gathered today in Luxembourg for a Foreign Affairs Council, have condemned Turkey's military action in north east Syria. "We have a common united European Union position … on the developments in the north-east of Syria … there is a clear condemnation from the European Union’s side of Turkey’s military action", said High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the press conference following the Council.
The European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe firmly oppose the death penalty at all times and in all circumstances. The death penalty is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment contrary to the right to life. The death penalty means revenge, not justice, and its abolition contributes to the enhancement of human dignity.
Today, we pay tribute to the memory of Jamal Khashoggi, a respected Saudi journalist who was killed in the premises of the Consulate General of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul on 2 October 2018. Jamal Khashoggi continues to be an inspiration to journalists and associates with whom he was in contact for his work, including colleagues in the EU institutions.
Yesterday’s attack by drones on two ARAMCO oil facilities in Saudi Arabia poses a real threat to regional security. At a time when tensions in the region are running high, this attack undermines ongoing work at de-escalation and dialogue.
We express our sympathy to the Saudi authorities and to the Saudi people.
It is important to clearly establish the facts and determine responsibility for this deplorable attack.
At the same time the European Union repeats its call for maximum restraint and de-escalation
On the occasion of the International Day of Democracy, the European Union reaffirms its commitment towards democracy as a fundamental right of every human being. Every woman and every man has to be free to participate to the political, economic and social life of her or his country. No one should fear to speak up, to demonstrate peacefully, to go to vote or to expect fair and inclusive policies from a government. Democracy can only function if participation and trust between democratic state institutions, governments and citizens are guaranteed.
On this first International Day commemorating the victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief, we pay tribute to all those around the world who lost their lives and suffered attacks because of their religion or belief. Persecution as a response to religious belief or affiliation, or lack thereof, is a violation of international law and requires joint work to combat it.