On Monday and Tuesday in Sarajevo was held the sixth Forum of the civil society for the countries from Western Balkan, organized by the European economic and social committee, where the biggest challenges that the Balkan countries are facing were discussed such as the freedom of speech, euro integration, the role of the social partners and the civil society in promoting the sustainable development and employment, as well as for the migration and the women rights.
The Forum was attended by the President of the Association of Journalists of Macedonia, Naser Selmani, who talked at the panel dedicated to freedom of speech about the role of the NGO sector in promoting the media freedom and the way to solve the most troubling problems.
Selmani said that the NGOs should raise the awareness of the citizens that the freedom of speech is an elementary human right guaranteed with the domestic and the international law. “Citizens should understand that they can express their opinion, without being influenced by the authorities, while respecting the other citizens’ rights and freedoms”, said Selmani and added that the NGOs should judge and document all the violations of the freedom of speech.
According to him, the main reasons for not respecting the freedom of speech in the countries from Western Balkans are: lack of democratic tradition, the failure to build responsible politic elites that believe in democratic values and take care about the interests of their countries and citizens.
“The political systems in the Balkans are not democratic, instead they are hybrid democracies. I call them Soviet democracies, that take Putin’s Russia as a role model”, said Selmani and added that communism has fallen, but the authoritarian practices of governing remained.
Talking about solving the problems with the freedom of speech of the Balkan countries, Selmani said that the authorities must publicly condemn the violence against journalists and to fulfill their legal obligations and punish the violators. He asked the authorities to stop financing the private media because that opens the possibility for the governments to control the media.
Except for that, he suggested to strengthen the public broadcasters, encouraging the judges and prosecutors to implement the European Court for Human Rights practice and also to increase the transparency of the institutions and strengthen the self-regulation in the media.
At the end of the Forum a declaration was adopted, in which one more time were reaffirmed the basic democratic principles, such as respecting the basic human rights and liberties and the rule of law. You can read the full Declaration on this link: http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.events-and-activities-6th-western-balkans–declaration