The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) condemns the severe disqualifications and strongly condemns the inappropriate attitude of the mayor of Struga Ramiz Merko towards the journalist of Alfa TV and the journalists present at yesterday’s press conference on illegal constructions in the municipality of Struga.
We emphasize that public figures, especially elected officials are subject to public criticism and should accept this as part of their work and should refrain from statements that in any way can be understood as labelling journalists, because it is not in the spirit of European and democratic values. Such statements can stimulate attacks and threats against journalists by party members, and this can lead to many negative consequences.
Free media and journalists are the basis for functioning of any democratic society, and a precondition for that freedom is the opportunity for media professionals to work in atmosphere free from threats and insults. Journalists work for the public and their actions are allowed to be criticized, but only if it is well-argued, right and does not provoke hate speech, calls to endanger their safety and the like.
We urge mayors in the future as representatives of political parties to work seriously on the relationship with journalists because they are the main reason for the country’s poor ranking of world index for media freedom and journalist safety.