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Q&A with Slovak Prime Minister highlight of IPI World Congress closing day in Slovakia

Sep 21, 2010, 4:47 PM

Slovakian Prime Minister Iveta Radi?ová addressed international journalists and media experts on the final day of IPI’s 60th World Congress in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Tuesday, hosted by IPI Board Member Pavol Múdry - who is also a board member of the SITA-Slovak News Agency and the IPI Slovak National Committee.

Talking about the media in the old Slovakian Communist system and the country’s transition to democracy, Radi?ová highlighted the continued danger of sliding away from a democratic system. "Democracy is like love. If you do not care, you'll lose it very quickly," Radi?ová told IPI congress delegates, many coming from countries in which press freedom and democracy are yet to be achieved or have been lost to dictatorial regimes.

Participants travelled from Vienna to Bratislava by boat and bus on Tuesday morning to participate in panel and town-hall style discussions, moderated by CNN anchor Jim Clancy on a variety of topics, from "Reporting on Extremist Politicians" to "Media Freedom in a Time of Change".

In a closing presentation on the media situation in Haiti following the earthquake, the secretary general of SOS Journalistes in Haiti, Joseph Guyler Delva, who is also a correspondent for Reuters and BBC, explained how the devastation caused by the recent earthquake has affected journalism in a country where press freedom has been systematically violated in recent years.

"Before the quake, conditions (for journalists) were difficult; but now they are disastrous," Delva told IPI World Congress delegates.

Delva also raised the sensitive issue of corruption within the profession, when living and working conditions for journalists are so precarious. "Can we really talk about practicing the journalistic profession, when the journalists are living in tents and cannot afford to buy food for their children?" Delva asked.

Following Delva's call for support, congress participants mobilised to donate to Haitian journalists who are in dire need of equipment so that they can investigate and report on the use of the large sums of funds recently channelled to Haitian institutions for the reconstruction of the country after the earthquake.

Taiwanese lion dancers and a kung-fu performance closed the IPI World Congress, in anticipation of next year's IPI World Congress in Taipei.

Videos and photographs of the IPI World Congress and of the 60 IPI World Press Freedom Heroes will be available on-line shortly.