Balkan Govts Urged to Uphold Media Freedom


News
02 Jun 15

Balkan Govts Urged to Uphold Media Freedom

European media associations and unions, meeting in Budva, Montenegro, have urged governments in the region to do more to uphold for media freedom and journalists’ rights.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN

Podgorica

The president of the European Journalism Federation, EFJ, Mogens Blicher Bjerregard, said his organization will not and must not allow Balkan authorities “to arrest our colleagues, threaten them, and want them to be silent”.

Numerous problems of Balkans journalists, who are faced with economic crisis and pressures, need solving urgently, Bjerregard told a round table on media freedom in the Balkans.

“In this part of Europe, media freedom and security are important issues. Last week, an investigative journalist was beaten in Croatia. But journalists do not agree to be silenced,” Bjerregard said ahead of the EJF Annual Meeting in Budva on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Regional journalists’ associations and media unions have called for solidarity and a joint fight for rights and for safety, for a strengthening of professional and ethical standards and for improving the social and economic status of journalists.

Oliver Vujovic, secretary general of the Vienna based Southeast Europe Media Organization, SEEMO, said he felt pessimistic about media freedom and the working rights of journalists in the region, including in the host country, Montenegro.

“Many journalists are working on the black market and some of them live of only 200 to 300 euros a month,” he noted.

Representatives of media unions from Serbia and Montenegro have pointed to the difficult state of the profession in these countries. The head the Montenegrin union, Marijana Camović, said the level of media freedom in the country is such that anyone who could find another job immediately left journalism.

Her Serbian counterpart, Dragan Cabarkapa, said that owing to the fear of lay-offs, employees accept low and irregular salaries and uncertain working status.

“Censorship and self-censorship are rising, and, instead of a free media, Serbia has a controlled press, rapidly slipping into a media ‘precariat’,”she warned.

At the meeting in Budva, a European Commission official, Andris Kesteris, revealed that the Commission has approved 1.2 million euro to establish a four-year program to help professional organizations of journalists in the region expand.

The aim is to strengthen the capacity of regional media and also strengthen social and political dialogue with employers.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)