Please do not send messages like "why did you put this letter up on the web". You have to be able to read between the lines. The reason is to know. If you know you can change it and if you don't you cannot. Right or wrong. Although I am tempted to send more letters on this subject, I still focus on Croatia. We have been focused on other things for too long.
B92 journalists in act of solidarity with Feral Tribune
BELGRADE, Monday ñ Journalists from Belgradeís Radio Television B92
have made a donation of 1,000 Euros to Split weekly Feral Tribune
following their having been fined 200,000 Croatian kunas and the
blocking of their bank accounts.
B92 sees this as an obvious attempt to crush critical opinion in
Croatia and calls on other broadcasters and publishers to join
institutions fighting for the freedom of speech in this solidarity
For societies on their way out of totalitarianism, the status of
media is the most obvious test for democracy. The status of media
in all post-war societies of the former Yugoslavia is proportionate
to the quality of change and democratisation.
In Kosovo, international control has been established over the most
influential broadcaster: Radio Television Kosovo. This had the
unfortunate result of shelving the development of independent media.
I recently had the opportunity to see the inadequate conditions
under which Kohavision TV is operating, two years after the bombing.
Independent media have not even begun to evolve in Montenegro,
having fallen into the trap of fighting for national independence,
which has frequently taken priority over the professional
development and independence of the media.
In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the international experiment with OBN TV has
failed and this territory is in a constantly experimental phase with
a negative attitude to independent media, which are kept at a
disadvantage with respect to state media.
In Serbia, no single piece of legislation applying to the media
field has been adopted. Instead, a moratorium on frequency
distribution was introduced, which provided for protÈgÈs of the
Milosevic regime to keep their privileges by relying on the laws of
the market. It is more than obvious that these companies have close
ties to the new authorities. The murders of publisher Slavko
Curuvija and journalist Milan Pantic have not been solved. NIN
editor Stevan Niksic has been sentenced to five yearsí imprisonment.
The fact that media no longer face astronomical fines has
unfortunately not influenced their legal security and status.
A lack of tolerance for independent media and dissident opinion is
also part of the continuity with the former authorities in Croatia.
I have no doubt that Feral Tribune is a stumbling block for any
authorities because of the high moral standards set by journalists
The inability to establish a process of facing our own past imposes
the need for the independent media to continue their role as a
public service, because no real public service media exist. Not
only is this in direct opposition to the interests of the public,
but the post-war governments, consisting mainly of broad coalitions
often with contradictory programs, are thus the direct successors of
wartime governments, nationalist, chauvinist and frequently criminal.
The refusal to critically consider the recent past and to establish
the truth about crimes and responsibility for them is a common
feature of these governments. The principle of communicating
vessels still works today, just as in the time when Tudjman and
Milosevic would occasionally help each other out by drawing
attention away in crisis situations. Three Croats not delivered to
the Hague Tribunal are an excellent excuse for not delivering five
Serbs. Ignoring cooperation with the Tribunal in Bosnia works
directly against legislation on cooperation in Serbia. The fact that
there are no trials in local courts in Serbia slows down trials in
Croatian courts and makes them meaningless.
The same applies to independent media. The lack of resolve to
really free the media space in Croatia hinders this process in other
parts of South-East Europe and vice versa. The former political
domination of the media will be replaced by the domination of media
moguls. Strong independent media are an obstacle because they
insist on questioning democracy in societies which control truth and
These new threats will be difficult to oppose, but we can make it a
challenge for all of us. Now more than ever it is necessary to
unite the forces in the region because a situation such as that in
which Feral Tribune now finds itself could await any one of us
The international community too must learn a less from cases such as
this. The international community must not make compromises with
governments in the region for short-term interests in the matter of
the stateís attitude to independent critical voices. Every
compromise costs us dearly because it results in the crushing of
criticism, the slowing down of the democratisation process and
prevents the public from prospering.
Editor in Chief, RTV B92
Executive Editor Mediachannel.org
Executive Producer, Globalvision.Inc
1600 Broadway, #700 NY NY 10019 USA
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