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IPI and SEEMO criticise EC Liaison Office's comment on Kosovo newspaper's publication of information without prior institutional consent

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is a press release by the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an IPI affiliate:

Vienna, 22 April 2008

IPI / SEEMO Express Concern Regarding European Commission Liaison Office Comment on Publishing Information without Prior Institutional Consent

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is concerned about a letter of complaint sent to Koha Ditore by the European Commission (EC) Liaison Office to Kosovo, after the Kosovar daily published an article based on a letter of communication between the EC and Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) in Kosovo.

According to information before SEEMO, on April 15, Koha Ditore published an article entitled "MEF Risks 5 million that were Committed to New Privatization Agency", which was based on a communication between the EC Liaison Office and MEF. The EC Liaison Office subsequently sent a letter to Koha Ditore's editor-in-chief, expressing "strong disapproval of the practice of publishing internal communication[s] without prior consent" from both institutions.

SEEMO would like to emphasize that, where journalists are limited to publishing only those articles approved for publication by the government or international institutions they essentially function as spokespersons for those entities, a role at complete odds with their goal of providing information that is in the public interest.

"The media functions as an important pillar of democratic society by performing its work in the interest of the public," said Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General. "It is important that governments and international institutions support investigative reporting, which permits members of the public to access a wide range of information, in turn allowing the necessary public debate of issues that affect them."

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