29 September 1998
Participants refused visas for international conference "Broadcasting for a Democratic Europe"
(AMARC/IFEX) - The following is a press release issued by AMARC on behalf of
Exactly one month ago, Radio B92, on behalf of the Association of
Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) informed the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry,
the Yugoslav Secretary of Information and the Serbian Information Minister
that ANEM would be organising the international conference "Broadcasting for
a Democratic Europe" in Belgrade on 2 and 3 October 1998. The conference was
to be held under the auspices of the Council of Europe and its invitees
included local experts and some fifty experts from Europe and the United
States. The Yugoslav Foreign Ministry was asked to enable unhindered visa
issue to all participants from abroad. The Ministry was also asked to note
the great political significance of this, the first international conference
to be organised in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under the auspices of
the Council of Europe.
Unfortunately, the Yugoslav state authorities have once again shown there is
no serious intent behind their declarative statements of the need to
cooperate with and join the most important European political institutions
and organisations, one of which the Council of Europe indubitably is.
Although the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry and the Yugoslav Secretariat of
Information should have taken all necessary steps to provide all
international participants with visas, ANEM learned, just three days before
the conference, that a great part of its international invitees were denied
visas. The denial came after two or three weeks of Yugoslav embassies'
dallying with the visa issue, aimed at creating a deliberate pretence of
normal administrative problems that would eventually be solved easily.
The Council of Europe has in the meanwhile confirmed that its top-level
representatives would take part in the conference, including the Chairman of
the Council of Europe and Greek Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Giorgos
Papandreou. By denying visas to the participants of this conference, the
Yugoslav authorities have sent out a clear message to the world that they
are in fact preventing the inclusion of our country into the international
Radio B92 and ANEM will on no account abandon the plan to present their
achievements -- the ANEM Radio and Television Networks -- to the world. The
"Broadcasting for a Democratic Europe" conference shall take place no matter
how hard the Yugoslav authorities try to spread fear of and resistance to
democracy and Europe. ANEM's internal and external openness is the core idea
of its development and strategy, which shall not be dropped regardless of
all pressures. Isolation can no longer survive nor be justified. This fact
is clear even to the Yugoslav authorities who are trying to keep democracy
and modernisation on the borders on our country.