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EU Envoy, In Baku, Says Media Freedom High On Agenda

Peter Semneby
BAKU -- The EU's special representative for the South Caucasus has told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service that media freedom issues are high on his agenda as he begins a visit to Baku.

Peter Semneby arrived in the Azerbaijani capital on February 23 for a three-day visit.

He said his talks with officials as well as opposition and civil society figures would also touch on energy and human rights as well as regional issues such as Azerbaijan's conflict with Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

RFE/RL asked Semneby if he planned to raise recent amendments imposing new restrictions on the media, or the case of two bloggers jailed on what supporters say were politically motivated charges.

"These are issues that are high on our agenda and the list of issues that we bring up basically on every opportunity," he said. "I hope that we will see some movement forward in order for this not to grow [into] a more problematic issue in our relationship than it needs to be."

Semneby also described as "questionable" aspects of the amendments passed earlier this month.

The changes make it an offence to photograph, videotape, or make an audio recording of anyone without their permission.