Representatives of the Association of Journalists of Macedonia are participating on a training for Advocacy for the Freedom of Expression, which is organized in Podgorica, within the regional platform for security of journalists from the Western Balkans, financed by the European Commission.
Besides representatives of AJM on the training are participating representatives from journalist associations from Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Montenegro.
Representatives from these organizations today in Podgorica had a joint press conference where the President of AJM, Naser Selmani spoke.
Selmani said that Macedonia in the last period was a black hole in the region regarding the disrespect for the freedom of speech. He explained that the last Government built a perfect system for controlling and instrumenting the media. “The basic instrument for control was corrupting the media with public money in order to gain their affection, but journalists who refused to be corrupted became objective of physical and verbal attacks” said Selmani.
According to him, Macedonia is the only country in Europe that has a journalist in prison. “Bozhinovski is in custody for three years and the court process is still not finished. He is accused of alleged espionage and criminal association. The goal of every government that uses violence against journalists is to stop the criticism in the media” said Selmani.
He explained that the best illustration about the relation that the ex-government has towards the journalist is the latest event in the Parliament that happened on April 27th, when the supporters of Gruevski entered in the Parliament in order to destabilize the country and to cause a civil war. “You probably saw the supporters of Gruevski attacking MPs, but what you probably did not see were the attacks on journalists that happened that day in the Parliament. The journalists were basically kidnapped for 3-4 hours, the police failed to protect them. During the whole-time journalists were attacked, they were threatened and offended verbally and equipment was taken from them so that they cannot report from there”, stressed Selmani.
The president of AJM said that the new government has a political will to make serious media reforms, but added that he expects from the prime minister and from the minister of police publicly to judge the violence against journalists and to do all they can in order to punish the attackers.
“It’s a good sign that the government yesterday adopted a strategy for urgent reforms, that contains the key requirements of AJM and the media community” said Selmani.
“The Regional Platform of Western Balkans for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety” is composed of six independent journalist associations from Western Balkans including the Association of journalists in Macedonia and the partner organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia and is financially supported by the European Union.