Journalists urge the EU to do more for media freedom in Serbia

November 15, 2017

Representatives of the Group For Media Freedom spoke at the “Media Days of the Western Balkans” conference in Tirana and called on the European Union to support free, professional and responsible journalism in Serbia, and not to ignore the desperate situation in which it finds itself.

Participants in the panel discussion on the role of the media in the process of European integration, on behalf of the Group, were addressed from the audience by the director of the Centre for Investigative Reporting of Serbia (CINS), Branko Čečen, while the other members stood in black T-shirts with the message “EU Do More”.

As a sign of solidarity with the problems of the media in Serbia, they were joined by numerous conference participants from the countries of the region.

Tamara Skrozza, one of Serbia’s most renowned journalists, said at the conference that “the EU should not fight our battles, rather only not hinder us in efforts to fight for media freedom in Serbia”.

“We face daily threats. The tabloids that are edited by the ruling party put us on the front pages and mark us as foreign mercenaries and traitors. We are exposed to constant economic, political and physical pressure. Members of the ruling party use all uncovered and hidden, lawful and unlawful methods to exhaust us and cause us to disappear. And the EU and its representatives openly applaud the political leaders who are responsible for this state of affairs. They also applaud Vučić because, as they tell us, he is a guarantor of stability. But without free media this is false stability, this is theatre, this is nothing,” said Skrozza, and said that for her personally, as well as many other independent journalists in Serbia, the situation under Vučić today is worse than it once was under Milošević.

She appealed to EU officials to use their influence in the process of Serbia’s EU accession negotiations and prevent the further destruction of the media scene.

It was announced from the European Commission that they will invest in new initiatives to support independent journalism and the sustainability of media companies, such as training young journalists in the region and technical assistance programmes for public services and digitisation.

European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, Johannes Hahn, emphasised that “freedom of expression is crucial for the EU”, and that “we continue to monitor cases of violence against and intimidation of journalists with the utmost care and vigour”.