AMMAN – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates released a statement on Thursday underlining its rejection of comments made by Dutch Ambassador to Jordan Harry Verweij regarding his October 18 meeting with Minister of State for Media Affairs Faisal Shboul.
Verweij tweeted on October 18 that his meeting with Shboul was an opportunity to discuss the media scene in Jordan. He added that he had raised concerns about the shrinking civic space and media freedoms in Jordan, and expressed “our concerns about Jordan’s declining international ranking on freedom of expression. “.
The ministry statement, also posted on Twitter, said what was to take place was a courtesy meeting between the two parties, but surprisingly the ambassador interfered in a radio license application for an unnamed person. Jordanian and not Dutch, a matter that must be dealt with in accordance with laws and regulations, and in full transparency, adding that it is incomprehensible that an ambassador representing a friendly country should interfere in such a case.
The ministry expressed its rejection of what it described as interference in Jordan’s internal affairs, but said it was open to “frank dialogue…Through diplomatic channels and direct contacts”.
Reactions to the Dutch ambassador’s statements also came from outside Jordan. On October 20, the UAE Foreign Ministry released a statement saying it had summoned the Dutch ambassador to Abu Dhabi and “informed him of the strong protest and denunciation of the state. . regarding interference in the internal affairs of Jordan”.
The UAE Foreign Ministry called the statements by the Dutch ambassador to Jordan “irresponsible and outside diplomatic norms, (…) which constitute gross interference in the internal affairs of the country. Jordan”.
As local media and social media platforms covered the reactions to this unprecedented diplomatic tiff, the Community Media Network (CMN) in Amman issued a statement on Thursday acknowledging that there have been posts and statements, that he called “inaccurate”, which indirectly implicated CMN/Radio al Balad and AmmanNet.
The statement said the organization was contacted more than a year ago by the Dutch CEO of Ref FM (Refugees FM), an organization that helps establish apolitical radio stations for refugees. The CEO asked CMN if they would be willing to work together to set up a station targeting Syrian refugees in the Zaatari camp, the network said.
The CMN said it has contacted all relevant parties in Mafraq, from humanitarian and local officials to security personnel. They all welcomed the idea, the statement said. He added that CMN Director General Daoud Kuttab and COO Etaf Roudan, who also heads Radio al Balad, approached Media Commission Director Tariq Abu Raghib to initially ask him to s thought the idea would work. “He welcomed the idea with enthusiasm and encouraged us to apply. We also contacted Minister of Media Affairs Shboul who also encouraged us to apply,” the statement said.
“We applied, prepared all the necessary documents, made the necessary cash deposits and waited. For months, we received no response to a request to set up a small, apolitical 200-watt humanitarian station just for refugees,” the statement said.
“Finally, in recent weeks, we received a verbal response from the Media Committee that a committee had rejected our proposal. We requested a letter to this effect, but were told that no letter would come,” says the press release.
“We naturally informed our partners who contacted the ambassador. We did not participate in the meeting of the (Dutch) ambassador with the media minister – we learned about it on social networks,” the statement concluded.
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