OLAF /06/17 Joint press release: International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Bulgarian Ministry of Interior, European anti-fraud Office (OLAF) Brussels, 12 October 2006
"Transparency and Media Relations as a Means of Fighting Fraud and Corruption Affecting the EU Financial Interests", was the title of a three-day seminar co-organised by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) for the members of the OLAF Anti-Fraud Communicators' Network (OAFCN), that finished yesterday in Sofia, Bulgaria.
In her address, the President of the OLAF Supervisory Committee, Mrs Rosalind Wright, pointed out : "We must work together to ensure that we are all communicating the right message at the right level and with appropriate detail and comprehensibility so that the result: better informed citizens with improved commitment to and understanding of the work of OLAF and the EU generally is achieved."
In a message sent to the participants to the seminar, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Administrative Affairs, Audit and Anti-Fraud, Mr Siim Kallas said: "I truly believe that communication can help deter and prevent fraud and irregularities by raising awareness and promoting public debate. Communication policy can help shape public opinion, and the key to success against corruption is changing public opinion. I encourage the continuation of such meaningful projects and extend my most sincere congratulations to OAFCN for such worthwhile initiative."
The seminar in Sofia highlighted the added value of embracing the entry of acceding countries with the objective of sharing experiences and practices about communication in the fight against fraud. Journalists and their trade representatives presented their views and stated their expectations from past experience towards enhancing the flow of information.
The seminar was opened by the Bulgarian Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Sergei Stanishev who expressed his commitment to fighting fraud and his dedication to work with the other EU Member States and the European Institutions. The Prime Minister was supported by the Minister of Interior Affairs, H.E. Mr. Rumen Petkov, the Minister of Finance, H.E. Mr. Plamen Oresharski, and the Prosecutor General Mr. Boris Velchev. OLAF Director General, Franz-Hermann Brüner closed the seminar with Mr. Rumen Petkov, Minister of Interior of Bulgaria and Mr Boyko Kotzev, Vice Minister of Interior, emphasising the importance of ever closer co-operation in anti-fraud communication.
Themes covered included:
• Difficulties encountered in the post-revolution years by the acceding states in the field of communication
• Mutual trust between EU states and OLAF in the exchange of relevant and accurate information and OLAF to be seen as adding value to operations as opposed to being interfering.
• The challenges of confidentiality of sources on the one hand and of ongoing investigations on the other.
In his opening remarks Mr Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ, welcomed the process of the exchange of experiences between investigators and media. He drew attention to the high price paid by investigative journalists who were vital to the fight against corruption and fraud. He highlighted the case of Anna Politkovskya, the campaigning journalist killed in Moscow just two days before the seminar opening. "Journalists play a key role in exposing corruption and we have to ensure they are able to work safely and without intimidation," he said.
New OLAF Video Stock Shots
In the course of the seminar OLAF presented its new video stock shots on OLAF's co-operation with the Bulgarian authorities in anti-fraud investigations. The stock shots are available for download from the European Commission's Audiovisual Service.
General Secretary, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
Tel: +32 (0)2 235.2200
Fax: +32 (0)2 235.2219
Director of Press and Public Relations Directorate
Ministry of Interior of Bulgaria
Tel:+ 359 29822301