Mar 05, 2013
DAMASCUS, (SANA) – Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Dr. Fayssal Mikdad affirmed in a press conference held in Damascus on Tuesday that Syria respects journalists' right to have access to information and that the Syrian government is prepared to cooperate with those who want to enter it legally.
Mikdad's remarks came in a press conference held in Damascus following the handing over of German journalist Billy Six, who had entered Syria illegally, to the Russian Embassy.
"Our border crossings are open to journalists who are objective and interested in truth. We respect the role of journalism and press in this regards," Mikdad said.
He said that Syria has tried during the crisis to provide all possible facilitations to allow journalists to convey the events in an objective and neutral manner, focusing on the need for journalists to have official visas and not enter illegally.
On the reasons behind preventing some journalists from entering some areas in the country, Mikdad said that there are many reasons, chief among them is that the government may not be able to guarantee their safety in some areas and because many journalists were not objective or neutral and were only interested in sensationalism and false news.
He added that many journalists, particularly ones that entered Syria illegally, lost their lives at the hand of the terrorist groups while covering their activities.
Mikdad highlighted that some western countries held the Syrian government responsible for the killing of many western journalists in Syria, adding that these governments are allowing their citizens to enter Syria illegally and therefore, these government are responsible for the killing of these citizens, stressing that "The journalists' lives are precious to us… we take the matter of their security very seriously."
He noted that many Syrian journalists were martyred without getting any attention from their fellow journalists in many parts of the world, particularly from those who always talk about the importance of media and journalism.
Mikdad said that the Syrian media has made considerable strides recently, adding that the political program for solving the crisis in the country highlighted the role of media in the future democratic Syria.
He expressed appreciation for Russia's stances towards the events in Syria, adding that the Syrian government expressed full readiness to cooperate with the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov in solving the issue of the German journalist.
"We told Minister Lavrov that we're fully prepared to do so, based on our permanent and sure goal of respecting the responsibilities and duties of journalists," Mikdad said, adding "but again we have reservations over illegal entry into Syria as no country in the world would accept this when it's witnessing tensions, including western countries.
"We still witness from time restrictions that aren't small to the freedom of journalists in following up and monitoring and even discussing some developments in western countries, whether in the USA, Britain, France or Italy, which sometimes carry out oppressive procedures against journalists and those who cover events worth covering," Mikdad said.
He wished the journalist well, hoping that all journalists whether German or otherwise would act in a way that respects law and countries' sovereignty and doesn't interfere in its internal affairs and that they would cover events objectively.
For his part, Russian Ambassador in Damascus Azmat Kulmuhametov voiced gratitude over the readiness and cooperation of the Syrian government towards Russia's request to learn about the fate of Six and release him, noting that this shows Syria's respect of foreign journalists' objective and dedicated work and its respect for humane principles as it released Six despite that he broke Syrian laws.
He said that what happened to Six proves the need for respecting the sovereignty of Syria and the need to resolve the crisis in it through respecting its sovereignty, without foreign interference, and through Syrians' own efforts by ending violence.