PRESIDENTAL FUND TO SUPPORT MASS MEDIA CREATED

April 6th, 2009
On 3 April 2009, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on the creation of the Presidential Fund to Support the Mass Media.

The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety contacted Press Council Executive Director Rahim Huseynov to obtain information about the fund. According to Huseynov, an executive director appointed by the president for a period of four years will manage the fund. The main goal of the fund is to help the press to be independent and professional. 1.3 million AZN has been allocated for the first stage of realization of the fund and the project will receive sustained funding in the future. Mass media interested in receiving financial assistance from the fund must appeal in the written form, said Huseynov. He emphasized that to qualify for assistance; mass media must have successful operations and have concluded labor contracts with its employees.
“Yeni Musavat” Newspaper Editor-in-Chief Rauf Arifoglu told IRFS that he positively assesses the creation of this fund and “Yeni Musavat” will appeal to the fund for assistance.
“Bizim Yol” Newspaper Editor Bahaddin Haizyev said, “The press needs freedom
more than financial assistance.” However he added that the creation of the fund was a positive step and he was not familiar with the fund’s program.
Turan News Agency Director Mehman Aliyev said, “The structure of this project still has to be formed. First the problems of the press must be researched and it must be determined what this problems stem from.”
“I have serious doubts about if independent newspapers and newspapers not associated with political parties can benefit from this fund, said “Khural” Newspaper Chief Editor Avaz Zeynalli. “I will appeal to this fund and will carry out a serious struggle.”
“Azadlig” Newspaper Director Azer Ahmedov said, “In Azerbaijan the press is ever pro-government or pro-opposition. I understand that the majority of this material assistance will be allocated for the pro-government press.”
“Ayna” and “Zerkalo” newspapers’ founder and chief editor Elchin Shikhli said, “I assess the creation of the fund as normal. Everything is dependent on the way this fund will operate in the future. If there are new projects, I will appeal to the fund.”
APA Information Agency Director Vusala Mahirgizi said, “The creation of a fund to help the press is normal. I believe that although the initial amount of money allocated for the fund is not big, if this fund is used effectively we can achieve great success.”