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Worry Over Media Freedom In Slovakia

  • April 9th, 2009
  • Posted by EUEditor

fico-robert-resize.jpgThe European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has condemned, 8.4.09, a warning issued by the Slovakian Prime Minister, Robert Fico (picture), over media coverage of what he calls trouble-making extremist groups in neighbouring Hungary.

The organisation is a regional grouping of the International Federation of Journalists, which represents 600 000 media workers in 123 countries.

It has normally less call to defend members in Europe, than elsewhere, over intimidation or violation of rights, but says in this case Mr Fico stepped outside normal EU practice.

It says the Prime Minister on Monday gave a blunt warning that the government might take action against journalists covering groups which he says are promoting separatism and trying to sow dissent within Slovakia’s minority Hungarian community.

According to the EFJ, he said his government might act to stop reporting that it considered damaging to Slovakian national interest … and accused him of sending an “intimidating signal’ about the future of press freedom in Slovakia.

“This sort of loose political talk creates an intimidating atmosphere for journalists,” said Aidan White, European Federation of Journalists General Secretary.

Political debate and discussion about tough issues such as rights of minorities could not be ignored, and while complex matters had to be reported in context by well informed journalists, “media cannot do their job well when government starts throwing its weight around.”

Many countries in Europe had to deal with internal discussions over issues such as regional independence, border arrangements or political controversy with neighbours – and Slovakia could not be a special case.

“We support Slovak journalists who are determined to protect their editorial independence and professionalism from political interference”, he said, announcing also that later this month he would visit Slovakia see the Slovak Syndicate of Journalists, media leaders and state officials.

“Recent events point to a growing crisis for media freedom in the region; it’s time for tolerance and dialogue and less intemperate politics when it comes to media affairs”, said Aidan White.


EFJ, Brussels, EFJ Protests Over ‘Intimidating Signal’ to Media From Slovak Prime Minister, media release, 8.04.09

Picture: Wikipedia