Governor Ashe Visits Azerbaijan

During a June 13-16 visit to Baku, Azerbaijan, BBG Governor Victor H. Ashe met with Azeri officials to familiarize them with BBG broadcasting and to raise the issue of restoring international broadcasting to the domestic airwaves.

On Jan. 1, 2009, the government of Azerbaijan banned all international broadcasters, including RFE/RL, VOA, and BBC from the domestic airwaves, in a move that was condemned by the BBG.

“Part of my mission is to explain how Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty works and that its mission is to report the news in a factual, objective way and that our Congress wanted a Board composed equally of Democrats and Republicans. There is some mistaken impression that the mission of RFE/RL is to reflect only U.S. government policy as opposed to reporting the news in an objective manner.” Ashe said.

Ashe met with Hafiz Pashayev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as other officials. He is scheduled to meet with Nurshiravan Maharammov, Chairman of the National Television and Radio Council, the licensing authority for all broadcast media in Azerbaijan.

Ashe also attended a dinner at the residence of U.S. Ambassador Matthew Bryza, which gathered a cross section of media actors in Azerbaijan, representing international NGOs doing media development work, independent outlets, as well as journalism educators, and media law experts. Among the attendees was Emin Milli, a well-known blogger recently released from prison.

Ashe’s consultations include meetings with U.S. embassy personnel, including Ambassador Bryza, and with RFE/RL staff. He will preside over the award ceremony of a literature contest sponsored by Radio Liberty’s literature page, Oxu Zali (Reading Room). In addition, while at RFE/RL, he will be a special guest on the radio program “Ishden Sonra” (“After Work”).
Governor Ashe will speak to U.S.-Azerbaijan Media Academy students about the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The Academy is a collaboration between the U.S. Embassy and ANS TV, a local television channel.

Further information on Governor Ashe’s trip will be available through RFE/RL’s Off Mic Blog.