Tuesday, October 17, 2017

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API PROTESTS 'ANGLO-SAXON ONLY' QUESTIONS DURING BREXIT PRESS CONFERENCE

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During today's (12/10) press conference with Brexit negotiatiors Barnier and Davis, only Anglo-Saxon journalists were allowed to ask questions. API president Tom Weingärtner has protested against this practice in a letter to chief spokesperson Margaritis Schinas, who moderated the press conference:

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Dear Margaritis,

The press corps has been surprised that out of five questions you admitted at today's press conference with Mr. Davis and Mr. Barnier, four were asked by British colleagues and one by an Irish journalist. It is against the common practice that would give one question out of two to the press of either side of a negotiation. That would have been possible since there were many other colleagues who wanted to ask questions.

API draws your attention to the fact that the press corps is composed not only of anglosaxon journalists but of colleagues from many nationalities, mainly from other EU member states. Their citizens are at least as concerned as the British about the Brexit negotiations.

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FERDINANDO RICCARDI 1928-2017

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Ferdinando R

Ferdinando Riccardi, who has died on 22 September at the age of 89, was for many years the voice and face of Agence Europe. There was a time, not so long ago, when the first duty in the morning of almost every Brussel-based journalist was to leaf through its daily edition. At first, this would have been mostly the blue colour, French-language edition, but in later years it would have increasingly been the pink-colour, English-language edition, as English took over as the lingua franca of Brussels. Riccardi embodied the publication and considered being called a federalist a compliment.

Ferdinando Riccardi was born in Turin and moved to Brussels in 1958. Though he preferred to write and speak in French, his language and perspective, throughout more than half a century in the Belgian capital, was that of a deeply committed European. Every day, every month, year on year, his daily column could be found on the first page of the ‘Bulletin’ of Agence Europe. There he would not only comment on the most recent developments in European politics, he would also often draw upon his own personal experiences and observations of European integration to look towards its long-term future. In an interview with Le Soir in 2011, he recalled that during the Second World War one of his brothers was deported to a concentration camp where he died. “For me, peace is not something we should take for granted,” he said.

Still, Riccardi never lost faith in a positive future for Europe. In the same interview, he added: “When I see the rise of Euroscepticism, this doesn’t make me afraid. With hindsight, historians will say that this movement has helped Europe to move forward.”

In the language of Voltaire, Riccardi was a vieux routier, and in German he was an Urgestein – veteran – among European journalists. Along with Emmanuele Gazzo, the co-founder of Agence Europe, he was for many years one of the most influential writers on European affairs.

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API OBJECTS TO REJECTION OF ACCREDITATION FOR RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS BY TALLINN

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API-IPA has objected against the recent decision by the Estonian EU presidency to deny accreditation to this week's Gymnich informal ministerial in Tallinn for three Russian journalists from newsagency Rossiya Segodnya. One of them is Vladimir Dobrovolskiy, a member of API and a fully EU accredited correspondent in Brussels. As such, he fulfills all the criteria for accreditation set by the European institutions, the Belgian authorities and API.

API finds that as a matter of principle, any journalist who has an accreditation to the European institutions, and whose application has thus been vetted by the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament, as well as by the Belgian security services, should receive an accreditation to any formal or informal meeting organised by or under the auspices of the European Union, wherever they may take place – in Brussels or in one of the member states. For API/IPA that equal treatment is fundamental.

The Estonian authorites motivate their decision by referring to the fact that Rossiya Segodnya is state owned and controlled and therefore not independent, but that condition applies to many news organisations all over the world, even in Europe, and has not prevented them from being accredited to the EU.

API/IPA does not judge its members by the content of their work, or if they are pro or contra the EU or its member states. The EU and its members should be strong enough to counter publications that they consider propaganda, without denying them access to their meetings.

The Estonians point to a resolution by the European Parliament, calling Sputnik (part of the Rossiya Segodnya group) a 'pseudo news agency' because it engages in anti-EU propaganda. But that same European Parliament, through its media services, has approved the EU accreditation for Rossiya Segodnya.

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API OFFICE CLOSED UNTIL 21 AUGUST - LE BUREAU DE L'API FERMÉ JUSQ'AU 21 AOÛT

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The API office will be closed this week (14-18 August). We will be open again from Monday 21 August at 9:30h.

Le bureau de l'API sera fermé cette semaine (14-18 Août). Nous rouvrons de nouveau le lundi 21 Août à 9h30.

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API CONCERNED ABOUT THREATS TO PRESS FREEDOM

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(version francaise ci-dessous)

 

The International Press Association (API-IPA), as representative of the Brussels based foreign correspondents, is deeply concerned about recent threats to the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression in several European countries.

Journalists have a duty not to refrain from politically sensitive or critical questions. ,,Correspondents who asked last week for comments from the European Commission about the situation in Poland, were fully entitled to do so. Any intimidation on this ground is unacceptable”, says API-president Tom Weingärtner.


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API OFFICE CLOSED UNTIL 24 JULY - LE BUREAU DE L'API FERMÉ JUSQU'AU 24 JUILLET

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The API office is closed for a short summer break until Monday 24 July at 9:30h

Le bureau de l'API est fermé pour une courte pause d'été jusqu'au 24 Juillet à 9:30h

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API AGAINST CANCELLATION OF STRASBOURG TUESDAY'S MIDDAY BRIEFINGS

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The API council has discussed the canceling of the midday briefing when the commission meets in Strasbourg. A number of objections were raised. Most prominently, the council felt that abolishing the midday briefing would deprive journalists of the opportunity to talk -- on the sidelines -- to spokespersons on that particular day. The midday briefing is the only occasion where colleagues can be certain that they will see spokespeople and be able to put specific questions to them on a wider range of subjects. This would no longer be possible if the midday briefing were to be abolished on Strasbourg Tuesdays.

 The API council also discussed the idea of also bringing together spokespersons in Brussels in the afternoon of the read-out in Strasbourg. We came to the clear conclusion that such an idea would not help very much — especially for journalists working for daily newspapers. The idea would not give journalists sufficient time after 4 or 5 pm and before their article deadlines.

Primarily for these reasons, the API council expressed a clear wish to have a midday briefing in Brussels at noon on those Tuesdays when the commission meets in Strasbourg as on every day.

Similarly, the API council was disappointed that no midday briefing took place on 22 June and that we were neither informed in advance nor consulted.

More generally, the API council is rather concerned that SPP communication policy is increasingly focused on "priority" issues set solely by the commission. We do not contest the right of the commission to formulate and implement its own communication policy. However, this should definitely not be done at the expense of journalists' right to enquire about subjects that the commission might not itself consider as a "priority".

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API HOUR ON UPCOMING ESTONIAN EU PRESIDENY

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The permanent representative of Estonia to the EU, Ms. Kaja Tael, was the special guest of a very well attended API Hour this morning in the Residence Palace. Ms. Tael gave an overview of the priorities of the upcoming Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union and answered in much detail questions from the journalists present. Starting on July 1st Estonia will hold the six month long rotating EU presidency for the first time since becoming an EU-member in 2004.

The API Hour – one of a series of briefings on current EU affairs – was moderated by API Bureau member and former president Michael Stabenow.

 

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API SUCCESS ON THE PITCH

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The API football team finished third in the annual Subsicup-tournament. Needless to say that the Austrian Dream Team won once more. The API-team, led by skipper Augustin Palokaj, made up of newspaper (Augustin, Pablo, Oliver), radio (Sebastian), television (Markus) and online-media (Nikolaj) colleagues plus sons (Silas and Gordian) and friends (Mentor, Andy and Chris) of journalists, kept cool in the decisive penalty shoot out. It was our youngest player – Silas, aged 12 – who showed the way by not only scoring twice from the penalty spot, but he was also chosen as 'MVP' – Most Valued Player  - of the tournament. Well done!

All smiles! From left: Skipper Augustin, Most Valued Player Silas, ever smiling Markus and goalie Mentor.

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NEW BADGE WILL MAKE PRESS ACCESS TO EP EASIER

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API had a meeting with spokeswoman Marjory van den Broeke of the European Parliament about a few outstanding issues:

  • press entrance to the EP buildings in Brussels: last year a new dedicated press line was established at the visitors entrance to the PHS building, but there were many complaints about the functioning of this facility. Now the dedicated press line will be indicated more clearly and journalists with an accreditation (the yellow interinstitutional badge) will have priority at the security check. The guards will be instructed again to allow them this priority over visitors waiting in line (there will be no special scanners for journalists). After this security check they will no longer have to be escorted by a guard to the revolving door giving access to the building itself, as from later this month on every accredited journalist will be able to obtain a special badge which will open this lock gate. More information about this will follow soon.

  • Photographers:Van den Broeke will investigate if it is possibleto make access easier for photographers, who now need special badges to be able to operate in the EP and who need to sign every time again a declaration accepting the special rules for picture taking in the parliament. She will investigate the possibily of a one-time acceptance for regular accredited photographers and cameramen.

  • Photographers also have a problem with the fact that at high level events in the plenary (like visiting leaders etc.) access to the floor of the hemicyle is limited to only four photographers, mostly working for the same four big agencies. Individual photographers and those working for smaller media want to have access too, for instance on a rotating basis. The EP will look into this request.

  • Censoring speech: API has a problem with the decision taken by the Parliament in december last year, giving the president of the EP not only the power to cut off an MEP/speaker in case he/she misbehaves or voices offensive, racist or otherwise objectionale language, but also to cut off the transmission of this speech by EbS or Europarl-tv to the outside world. This means journalists following the proceedings from outside the EP premises will be at a disadvantage compared to those working in the hemicyle. API stresses that in any case the recordings of this kind of event, including the disputed speech, should be archived for later reference by journalists. Otherwise they can never report factually about what has happened in an otherwise public session. API asks that for users of the archives it must be recognisable whether a video is complete and where something is missing, and also the written minutes of the plenery in question must be complete.

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IN MEMORIAM ROBERT (BOB) TAYLOR (1940-2017)

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Bob Taylor

It is with great sadness that API informs you of the death at the age of 77 of Robert (Bob) Taylor. As a journalist and foreign correspondent, Bob covered the European Union for more than 30 years, reporting on its performance, policies and personalities.

He began his career working for the overseas service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. He joined Reuters in 1967, filing business and financial stories from Berne, before arriving in Brussels in 1971. Bob headed the Reuters Brussels bureau for much of the 1970s, before becoming an EU correspondent between 1982 and 2000 for The Economist. Among his many media activities, he was a regular contributor to the BBC and wrote for The Bulletin, the magazine for the Brussels expatriate community.

Bob was co-author, along with Dick Leonard, a former colleague at The Economist, of the well-known 'Routledge Guide to the European Union'. He wrote several other books on the EU and numerous studies and reports for think tanks and EU institutions. During the 1990s, he was a much valued specialist project manager in telecoms and broadcasting for the EU, the World Bank and the EBRD.

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LÉNAIC FUND FELLOWSHIPS FOR YOUNG FEMALE EU JOURNALISTS

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Lénaïc Fund for Quality Journalism

Dear Colleagues,

Many of you knew and worked with Lénaïc Vaudin d’Imécourt. She was a talented, much respected and widely loved Brussels-based journalist specialising in international trade. She died tragically young almost two years ago.

I am asking for your help in informing young female journalists from across the European Union about the Brussels-based paid fellowships theLénaïc Fund for Quality Journalism is offering. The closing date for the next applications is 18 June.

The fund provides a financial bursary of up to €5,000 for five months. Its second placement begins in October 2017.

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MEDIA PREPARATIONS FOR ESTONIAN EU PRESIDENCY

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MEDIA INFORMATION ESTONIAN EU PRESIDENCY

The API Bureau had a meeting on May 18th with spokespeople of the permanent representation of Estonia to the EU about the media-preparations for the upcoming Estonian EU presidency.

Main points from our meeting are:

  • All informal ministerial meetings will be held in the Tallinn Creative Hub, a former power plant transformed into a cultural hotspot, on the edge of Tallinns old town

  • A special informal 'Digital Summit' of EU-leaders will be held in Tallinn at the end of September or in early October.

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API CONDEMNS COMMISSION MISINFORMATION, SCHINAS REJECTS CRITICISM

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API has complained to European Commission chief spokesperson Margaritis Schinas about the way he responded earlier this week to questions about the so-called glyphosate-issue. API President Tom Weingärtner wrote him this letter:

Dear Margaritis,

API is concerned about the way you have responded this week to questions about the Glyphosate issue. As a result journalists were misinformed.

During the press conference after the college's session on Tuesday in Strasbourg, an AFP colleague asked questions about the admission of Glyphosate and 'perturbateurs endocriniens', and whether this was discussed or decided by the College.

You then replied (quote):

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API OFFICE CLOSED UNTIL EASTER - LE BUREAU DE L'API FERMÉ JUSQU'À PÂQUES

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The API office will be closed in the week before Easter - from 10-14 April 2017

Le bureau de l'API sera fermé la semaine avant Pâques - de 10 à 14 Avril 2017

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API PROTESTS AGAINST ARREST OF DIE WELT-JOURNALIST IN TURKEY

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Today API-IPA issued this statement:

The International Press Association (API-IPA) protests against the arrest of the German-Turkish correspondent Deniz Yücel and asks for his immediate release.

Yücel was reporting for the German newspaper Die Welt and was arrested last week.

API-IPA, representing the interests of foreign correspondents in Brussels, is concerned about the restrictions for the press and the intimidations by the authorities against journalists. Under the martial law, introduced last July, journalists who are doing their job of reporting are criminalised as terrorists. This is an unacceptable assault on the freedom of expression.

API-IPA calls on the Turkish government to release Deniz Yücel and all other journalists arrested since July and to reestablish normal working conditions for the press.

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MEETING API-SPP - RÉUNION API-SPP

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On January 24th the API Bureau had its annual meeting with Margaritis Schinas and his staff to evaluate the workings of the European Commission's Spokespersons Service and the experiences of the foreign correspondents corps with them. This is a summary of the topics discussed.

  • Journalists receive priority access to the Berlaymont scanners in the specific press lanes during the hours of 10.00 and 14.30, and at other times if requested by the Spokespersons' Service. The sensitivity level of the X-ray machines is still in the process of being fine-tuned, especially in reaction to complaints from journalists.

  • security personnel at entrances to Commission buildings other than the Berlaymont or Charlemagne will no longer register names of visiting journalists. The yellow badge is enough ID. But visiting journalists will still have to be met and accompanied by EC-staff in those buildings.

  • links to the online "Upcoming Events", which contains the stable points of the agenda of the weekly college meetings and other upcoming college events are already included in the Daily News. The information will be highlighted even more in Daily News and other publications. The "Upcoming Events" will contain only items that are sufficiently stable to be published. The 'political' nature of this Commission makes it difficult to present a more provisional medium and longterm agenda, like the old Topnews.

  • Margaritis Schinas is willing to organize from time to time off-the-record/background briefings in the press room to present and discuss in advance the college's agenda and objectives.

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RENEWAL OF THE BELGIAN PRESS CARD - RENOUVELLEMENT DE LA CARTE DE PRESSE BELGE

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(Texte français ci-dessous)

Dear API-IPA members,

The Belgian Ministry of the Interior, responsible for issuing the official Belgian press card, has fallen behind in printing the new cards for the 2017-2021 period.

 

The Ministry has informed us that therefore, by a ministerial circular, the validity of the old 2012-2016 card will be extended until 28 February 2017.

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SAVE THE DATE: 15TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE IPC RESIDENCE PALACE

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On Monday 28 November, the Résidence Palace – International Press Center will celebrate its 15th anniversary.
To honour this anniversary, the International Press Association (API-IPA) is organizing a panel discussion on press freedom in Europe in the late afternoon. This session is followed by a festive reception in the Patio.

Please write the date in your agenda, the official invitation will follow.


Le Résidence Palace – Centre de Presse international fêtera son 15e anniversaire le lundi 28 novembre prochain.
A cette occasion, l’Association de la Presse internationale (API-IPA) organisera un débat en fin d’après-midi sur la liberté de la presse en Europe. Ce débat sera suivi d’une réception festive dans le Patio.

Notez dès à présent cette date dans votre agenda. Une invitation vous parviendra ultérieurement.

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DEBATE ABOUT CRIMES AGAINST JOURNALISTS

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The Association of European Journalists (AEJ) together with the Italian NGO Ossigeno per l'Informazione and the Press Club Brussels Europe organizes a debate on Thursday 27 October on occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI), 2 November.

Over 800 journalists were killed in the past 10 years in the world. In nearly all these cases their killers have never been brought to justice.

The event will consist of two sessions: the first one a panel debate on the geography of violence perpetrated against journalists in all its possible forms and how it has an impact on the work of fellow journalists. A second session will be centered on an Italian case and the work of Ossigeno per l’Informazione (Oxygen for Information) which has uncovered the cases of thousands of journalists, bloggers, photo and video reporters, who have been victims of intimidation, threats and abuse in Italy.

For more info, see http://tinyurl.com/zcvuz95

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