SEEMO Slams Bulgarian, Balkan Politicians' Abuse of Media

Society | July 23, 2012, Monday // 16:37|  views

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has been slammed by SEEMO for his outrageous statement that "Whoever criticizes the Ministry of the Interior serves the mafia." Photo by BGNES

The Vienna-based South and East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO) "observes with growing concern the way top politicians in the region speak to media and about media," the organization said in a statement.

"More than two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, top politicians and party leaders in South East Europe are still struggling to accept free media and live with criticism. They publicly accuse journalists of undermining national interests, treason, mafia ties, conspiracies, etc.", SEEMO declared Monday.

"Press freedom is the basis of democracy," underlines Oliver Vujovi?, SEEMO Secretary General. "Public figures have to live with criticism in media", adding that numerous recent examples illustrate this trend.

SEEMO reminds that on July 17, Romanian interim President Crin Antonescu labeled the U.S. daily The Washington Post and the French newspaper Le Monde as "contaminated publications." Antonescu blamed the papers for Romania's deteriorated international image. One week earlier, Senator Dan Sova accused the Brussels correspondent of the Romanian public radio of"intoxicating the international public opinion and foreign officials by transmitting false information that compromise the current Romanian government."

SEEMO further points out that in Bulgaria, on July 5, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov lost patience with the media that had criticized the work of the Ministry of Interior and said: "Whoever criticizes the Ministry of the Interior serves the mafia."

Meanwhile, President of the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro, Milo Dukanovic, the man who dominated Montenegro's political scene for two decades, either as a prime minister or a president, said in an interview to the Belgrade magazine Vreme that the objective of the Montenegrin dailies, Vijesti and Dan, and the Monitor weekly was to "destroy and smear Montenegro" and him personally, SEEMO notes.

The organization adds that Molorad Dodik, president of the Serb-governed territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska, declared on June 4, that press freedom was guaranteed. Two days earlier, as SEEMO reported, on June 2, Dodik asked Ljiljana Kova?evi?, the local correspondent of the Belgrade-based Beta News Agency, to leave a press conference and to not return. Using disrespectful language to address the journalist, Dodik also called her a liar.

SEEMO recalls that on May 13, Tomislav Nikoli?, then presidential candidate and currently Serbia's president, said during the TV show Rec po Rec (Word by Word), produced by Serbia's public broadcaster, Radio Television Serbia (RTS), that once elected president, he would call RTS and say: "I am coming to the television tonight, you will inform about everything I do, I am the president of Serbia," quoted the Association of Serbian Journalists (UNS).

Before that, in an interview with the state news agency, MIA, published on October 18, 2011, the prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia/Republic of Macedonia, Nikola Gruevski, criticized the journalist Borjan Jovanovski for posing a particular question during a 12 October 2012 press conference in Brussels, Belgium. Gruevski accused the journalist of asking a "prearranged question," intended "to prepare the terrain" for next year's "withdrawal of the recommendation [to start accession talks], if the name dispute [with Greece] is not solved by then." Gruevski asked why Jovanovski was sitting in the press room, and why it was him and not another journalist who had the right to ask a question.

"I call on politicians in South East Europe to stop publicly naming and shaming journalists," said Oliver Vujovi?, SEEMO Secretary General.

"Politicians have to understand that press freedom is the basis of democracy. If media do not comply with ethical standards, there are channels to place complaints. Accusing journalists of being traitors or mafia agents, without any proof, does not contribute to the respect of the rule of law. It can only lead to self censorship, " he added.


Tags: SEEMO, media, Balkans, media freedom, Western Balkans, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, macedonia, Bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Boyko Borisov, Borjan Jovanovski, Nikola Gruevski, Boyko Borisov, Milorad Dodik, Tomislav Nikolic, Serbian President, Prime Minister, Romanian President, Crin Antonescu, Milo Djukanovic

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