22:26 GMT30 May 2020
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    After the Russian Foreign Ministry voiced protest over Estonia's rejected Russian reporters bid to get accreditation for the upcoming EU foreign ministers' meeting in Tallinn, the Council of Europe chose to defend the Baltic country's move.

    PARIS (Sputnik) — Council of Europe's spokesperson Daniel Holtgen told Sputnik that Estonia is not obliged to respond to a media freedom alert, issued by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), over the refusal by the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union to provide Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency with accreditation to cover the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers.

    "Surely, such journalists associations as the European Federation of Journalists have the opportunity to draw attention to the incidents involving journalists in all member states of the Council of Europe… The countries, referred in the alert — in this case, Estonia — may give a response to such announcements, but are not obliged to," Holtgen said.

    He noted that the Council of Europe separately considered its reaction to each incident.

    "The platform serves as a database for the representatives of the Council of Europe, who make decisions regarding possible response independently for each case. There is no automatic link between an alert and response of the Council of Europe," Holtgen said.

    Three correspondents of Rossiya Segodnya, which comprises Sputnik, were rejected to get accreditation for the EU foreign ministers' meeting in Tallinn scheduled for September 7-8 without explanation of the reasons behind the decision. This is the first time the agency has faced such restrictions in getting access to coverage of ministerial level events under the aegis of the European Union. On Monday, the EFJ and the IFJ issued the alert on the Council of Europe's platform in connection with the incident.

    Earlier in the day, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow considered the Estonian authorities' decision outright discrimination, stressing that it undermined the EU's authority. The ministry urged the relevant international structures to pay special attention to this case and take measures to prevent the infringement upon the rights of Russian journalists.

    EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutierrez called the move of the Estonian authorities "a serious attack on media freedom."


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