Germany Takes Over as Coalition Co-Chair, Pledges to Strengthen Global Press Freedom

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From Left: Foreign Ministers of Netherlands, Hanke Bruins Slot; Germany, Annalena Baerbock; Estonia, Margus Tsahkna

The Media Freedom Coalition, a global network of 50 member countries aimed at supporting freedom of the media worldwide, has announced Germany as the new co-chair of the Coalition following the completion of the Netherlands’ two-year term as co-chair in January 2024.

Represented by the Federal Foreign Office, Germany is set to collaborate with Estonia which became co-chair in 2023 to strengthen the coalition’s network of like-minded countries, further advancing the cause of media freedom on the global stage.

Promoting freedom of the press is a particular priority for the German Government, which has further stepped up its efforts in this direction in recent years.

In previous efforts to promote freedom of the press, the German Government had implemented several initiatives including launching the Hannah Arendt Initiative to support and protect at-risk media professionals, enabling them to continue their work even while in exile.

In 2023, with Germany becoming a member of the Executive Group of the Media Freedom Coalition, the Federal Foreign Office demonstrated its commitment to international cooperation and established important milestones for the protection of media professionals.

In 2024, Germany, represented by the Federal Foreign Office, will collaborate with Estonia to strengthen the MFC’s network of like-minded countries. This partnership aims to address challenges faced by media professionals worldwide, such as arbitrary detentions and threats to press freedom. The MFC co-chairs employ various strategies, including quiet diplomacy and public campaigns, to protect journalists and uphold media freedom.

As the new co-chair of the Media Freedom Coalition, Germany pledges to expand the coalition’s membership and advocate for greater press freedom globally. With Estonia by its side, Germany aims to build upon the achievements of previous co-chairs and promote a safer environment for journalists to carry out their work in exposing abuses of power and defending democracy.

In a statement on the platform X (formerly Twitter), Dutch Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot expressed satisfaction in the Netherlands’ tenure as co-chair, emphasizing continuous advocacy for media freedom.

She said: “The Netherlands has been a proud co-chair of the Media Freedom Coalition for the past two years, continuously advocating for media freedom both at home and abroad. I am pleased to pass the baton to my colleague [German Foreign Minister] Annalena Baerbock as Germany succeeds the Netherlands as co-chair today.

“I am confident that we are leaving the Coalition in capable hands under the leadership of Germany and the remaining co-chair, Estonia. We remain a committed member of the Media Freedom Coalition and pledge to support UNESCO’s Global Media Defence Fund.”

Meanwhile, Margus Tsahkna, the Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, conveyed gratitude to the Netherlands for their collaboration during their chairmanship and welcomed Germany as the new co-chair. Stating via X, he said: “It was my great honour yesterday to thank the Netherlands for the excellent cooperation during our chairmanship of the Media Freedom Coalition and congratulate Germany for starting as a new co-chair. Looking forward to uniting our efforts for improving the situation of media freedom globally.”

The Media Freedom Coalition is led by two rotating co-chairs, which each serve a term of two years. The co-chairs are also part of a larger Executive Group which is the primary strategic decision-making body of the MFC. Having stepped down as co-chair, the Netherlands will remain part of the Executive Group.