Dr. Abiy Vs TPLF In press freedom Today is the World Freedom Press Day and the main celebration takes place in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. The overall theme of the day is the role of media in elections and democracy. I cannot think of any better choice of location for this year’s event than Ethiopia. It has not been easy to be a journalist and defend press freedom in Ethiopia However, the conditions for media to play a constructive role in Ethiopia’s development had changed dramatically the last year. During the past months, Ethiopia has embarked on a series of comprehensive political and democratic reforms, also in the media sector. The media law is currently being revised, journalists have been released from prison, media outlets that were previously banned have been allowed to start operating again and every day we see new newspapers and outlets being started. Although challenges of course remain, this development is impressive. Sweden is a firm supporter of these reforms to create a more democratic and prosperous Ethiopia.
Sweden has been engaged in Ethiopia’s development since more than 100 years back. Swedish missionaries were involved in building over 6000 schools in Ethiopia and in 1954, Ethiopia became Sweden’s first partner for long term development cooperation. Sweden is now increasing its commitment in Ethiopia to support the democratic reform process in the country. An independent media that may protect, defend and strengthen press freedom and freedom of expression is of utmost importance in that context.
Earlier this month, the Swedish Embassy together with our partners FOJO Media institute and Nubia media organized a regional seminar bringing in 20 experts from the continent and elsewhere to share their experiences from their countries’ media reforms. This was done as a part of a program to support the media sector which we have been engaged in for the last two years. Together with our Nordic partner Denmark, we are now designing a long term and institutional program with the purpose of supporting media development in Ethiopia in the midst of its very interesting and challenging change. Let us all do our best to make sure media plays a constructive, uniting and peace full role in this process.