NNA - Information Minister, Melhem Riachy, inaugurated on Thursday a conference on the status of media in the Arab world today titled "Media on the Move in the Arab World Today", organized by the state-run National News Agency and the Swedish Institute Alexandria.
"The Media is the language of our age; it is the real nuclear language required to build new human beings that could fit well in our era," the Information Minister said in a speech he gave marking the occasion.
On the other hand, the Minister highlighted the paramount importance of dialogue in today's world, deeming it a courageous tool that entails the equal efforts of two sides en route to common grounds and rules.
"In the East, we lack the concepts of dialogue and the basic principles of any religion or ethnicity," Riachy added.
"The demonization of Muslims requires of us orientalists to rectify this image so as to halt misleading attempts (...) I am an eastern Christian living with Muslims; we know each other so very well and host one another in each other's homes," Riachy explained.
"I have to explain to the west how I view Muslims and to present the truth of our east through media dialogue. We have to reflect the best image of our East, which awaits a new phase of resurrection after the turmoil it had endured," Riachy added.
The Minister also pushed for "real dialogue with the west and within the east on human rights, as well as on the wealth of the region that's being looted." He also underlined the need to tackle media infiltration, and the misguidance of eastern citizens.
"We have to define our main issues that are in great need of dialogue," Riachy stressed.
Touching on Al-Quds ordeal, the Minister stepped up calls for action and dialogue with the west rather than sticking to verbal acts of solidarity.
"The media must be fully in the service of dialogue and confrontation," he asserted.
The Minister finally promised that his new Information Ministry's structure, which is based on Communication and Dialogue, would see the light soon.
Director of the NNA, Laure Sleiman, took the stand to deliver a word on the occasion whereby she said "building trust in the media through dialogue and openness is the title of the opening session, during which we will meet today within the framework of this conference to address the status of the media in the Arab world today, under the patronage of His Excellency the Minister of Information, Melhem Riachy."
"The concept of dialogue is, according to UNESCO's definition, aimed at ensuring the sustainable development of human groups and the dissemination of values of tolerance and justice. And if dialogue is compatible with preventive diplomacy, it inevitably pre-empts it and completes the road. It also transcends mediation and the concept of mutual concessions between parties, at the expense of values and principles. Dialogue is different from memorandums of understanding or bilateral agreements between two sides; it delves into beliefs and traditions, and seeks facts, to reach common grounds on sovereignty, freedom, independence and risks, identify enemies and friends, and draw a mat of inter-States relations," Sleiman said.
"Dialogue is the basis of any successful work, and dialogue without communication is failure par excellence," she went on to say, praising in this context the efforts exerted by Minister Riachy to promote the spirit of dialogue and communication at the political and the media levels alike, "mainly by transforming our ministry of information into one of dialogue and communication."
"The media is one of the most important pillars of dialogue for it plays a key role in crises and a pivotal role in disseminating facts."
"Media has nowadays become a modern and civilized language that cannot be ignored or disregarded. (...) It has diversified to become more responsive to the circumstances and challenges imposed on this sector. As the public opinion has the right to know the truth and follow up on the events taking place on the local, the regional and the international arenas, dealing with such events and publishing them should be done in accordance with professional and ethical rules, and humane and objective criteria that take into consideration the conditions of the society and the mood of the public opinion," the NNA Director stressed.
"Media could become a tool of destruction and strife ignition through provocation, distortion of facts, publishing false and inaccurate news, and favoring scoops over accuracy and objectivity," she said.
"Media in our Arab world has suffered and is still suffering. Will it have the right opportunities to show its capabilities and the challenges it faces? Has Arab media reached freedom through the Arab Spring, or has this media turned into chaos and soon started to turn come back? These topics and others will be put forward today, in the hope that we find effective answers and come up with practical and applicable recommendations," Sleiman concluded.
Then spoke the Director of the Swedish Institute who said "Dialogue means being ready to talk about issues that are of importance both to you and your opponent. (...) It means finding ways to face challenges together instead of dealing with them alone."
"It is a time of violent turmoil, during which the Middle East is going through the worst period of conflict since the Crusades because of the largest recorded number of refugees since World War II, and the expansion of fanatical ideologies," he said.
Tackling the challenges facing our societies today, he said "these challenges cannot be resolved by States on their own. (...) The solution lies in understanding one another. There is no alternative to co-existence and unity in diversity, and Lebanon is the ultimate example to that."
He called accordingly for "confronting extremism, sectarian violence and extremism that lead to fear, migration and Islamophobia," stressing that "the main challenge is to face populism, tell the truth, protect international human rights institutions, coexist and build trust through openness, dialogue and international laws."