Régis Présent Griot (Journalist, La Gazette)

05.11.2010 - Interview conducted by Makeda Peter

Q1. In relation to what you were discussing, do you think the evolution of newspaper via the internet can enable what you discussed concerning democracy and free press? What do you envisage as being the future possibilities of internet newspapers, and how can its broad access effect relations between the EU and the Soviet successor states, including Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus, considering the rise of civil society?

If I presume your question refers to how internet could infer these relations, I think it allows a lot of new possibilities. I am very trusting in the internet. The internet is the worst but it is also the best. I am sure if you are in Moldova without internet you are definitely cut from the rest. The internet gives you the possibility to read something with much criticism. You see these girls (referring to some of the Russian respondents present at his talk) they have no understanding about what has happened in Russia. They have the feeling that everything is nice and fun. However, having only internet is not enough: you have to be curious. All what I said, you don’t have in Russia what you have in Russia - you don’t have control of the internet, so if they want to find information they will find it. The internet opens a lot of doors, opens a lot of gates, but it is not enough, you have to have a curious culture. It is not properly Russian. I mean the situation of the jails in France or in Germany is totally bad, problematic, and we don’t speak a lot about it.

Q2. What about the hope of Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine as becoming members of the EU?

Moldova is not really a problem, it would be great. But concerning Belarus or Ukraine the transition into becoming an EU member (if it were to happen) would be very complicated. Ukraine is big, it has strong relations with Russia. For me Ukraine is comparable to Turkey. I mean it is such a big country, they both have a very European appearance and feelings, but not only, as they belong to another affair. I think if we accept Ukraine or Turkey in the EU then there is no border anymore. Why then not Russia, Iran, Syria? I am very much for Europe and the European construction. I think the EU should be for Europe. We have very close relations with Quebec-Canada, they speak French, however, I do not see their place in the EU. New Zealand is also very sweet and very nice, but they do not have a place in the EU, or Israel. What can we say about Israeli's, have of their people come from Europe. The point I am trying to make here, is that if we are too big, we lose our ability to build something strong in Europe. And that is why, the Americans for example, want Turkey to enter the EU, because it is like a boat that you cannot manage anymore. And the same for Ukraine, they are similar to being European, but they are not European, they are different.

Q3. So relating to something you were discussing earlier regarding clichés, how do we overcome them? You did mention developing press which talks about real life, but as the discussions were going on (during question time between the attendees and himself) it became apparent that even in democratic states, the freedom of speech is still somehow limited. So in terms of overcoming clichés with the development of press, could you elaborate on this view, considering that even in democratic states the restrictions are present. How do you think it will evolve and do you think the idea of free press will ever be realised?

Everywhere there is always the temptation to do what is comfortable. For example, if you speak about Russian prostitutes it is a normal in relation to Frankfurt or Paris, that we would understand it, it is normal. I we speak about a very creative Rock N Roll group it is more complicated to explain. It has not so much to do with democracy, but more related to what is easy. As journalists, you always have to fight against it: an example - you want German’s driving big cars, OK I will show you German’s driving big cars. It is more complicated to show a woman with children, no man, having two jobs in Berlin; but if you are a business man driving a big car, then it s OK for the newspaper. This temptation of doing what is easy, what is deemed acceptable. It is not only limited for journalists. In every job it is easier to do what you have already done, or something you know, it is simple and you don’t have to explain. However, I think it is our role as a journalist to fight this and to find the truth.

Thank you for your time.