May 2, 2023
Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Lipavský, on behalf of the Governments of the United States and the Czech Republic, released the following joint statement.
The United States and the Czech Republic share a vital stake in promoting democracy, civil society, and human rights, including the freedom of expression. The free and unfettered flow of information, ideas, and opinions — including dissenting ones — is essential to inclusive and tolerant societies. Media freedom and a vibrant independent press is a cornerstone for any healthy democracy and helps ensure information as a public good. An independent press helps citizens understand the forces that are shaping their lives and allows people to engage meaningfully in the political and civic spheres of their communities.
The United States is committed to a productive relationship with the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) and its grantees, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). USAGM is an independent federal government agency funded by the U.S. Congress to promote democratic values, access to information, and media freedom around the world. The U.S. government respects the independence of USAGM and engages with its grantees as it would any other media outlet. This firewall is essential to USAGM’s important mission of providing objective, independent, and credible reporting to audiences around the world.
The Czech Republic notes that support for freedom of the press constitutes one of its key human rights priorities. Through the Transition Promotion Programme, the Czech Republic supports independent media worldwide and Prague has become an important center for the support of free media, especially in the post-Soviet space. The Czech Republic recalls that the Czech people benefited from independent sources of information such as RFE/RL broadcasting during their decades of subjugation by the Soviet Union.
The United States greatly appreciates that the Czech Republic has hosted RFE/RL since 1995. From its headquarters in Prague, RFE/RL today delivers news content on radio, television, and the internet to 23 countries in 27 languages. Its mission — to promote democratic values by providing accurate, uncensored news and open debate in countries where a free press is threatened and disinformation is pervasive — is as important as ever.
Because RFE/RL draws the ire of authoritarian regimes with its programming, it is a constant target of hostile governments. The United States and the Czech Republic note that, because of these threats, RFE/RL must compose its workforce with special care, and we stand united in strong support of the work of RFE/RL.
The Czech government is pleased to be RFE/RL’s partner in promoting human rights and democracy worldwide and reaffirms that RFE/RL is welcome to continue to be based in Prague. The United States and the Czech Republic will continue to collaborate to ensure that RFE/RL is able to continue to function effectively in its Prague headquarters, including on the issue of workforce management, bearing in mind the institution’s operational needs and the external threats that it faces.
The United States and the Czech Republic are proud to work to rally a broad coalition of our friends, partners, and Allies around the world to advance media freedom. We will continue to coordinate closely on this important issue.