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ANEM joins local media groups in calls for media reform

(ANEM/IFEX) - On 6 April 2011, ANEM, along with three other media organisations and local media outlets, published the following open letter to Serbian president Boris Tadic.

Mr. President,

Press freedom in Serbia is seriously compromised at present. The situation in media has never been worse since the democratic changes of October 5, 2000, and the state still does nothing to help the media industry to survive the crisis.

Local press is on its deathbed, while the financial situation of journalists is deplorable. In some parts of the country, local electronic media do not exist anymore. In Belgrade and Loznica, investigative journalists live under 24-hour police protection, and these are not the only places where their safety is threatened. Independent newspapers like the daily "Danas" suffer hardship due to the incorrect application of laws by unjust courts. It takes only one word from a politician from the ruling coalition to end a radio program that does not fit with their dominant perception of the world.

The names of journalists Slavko Curuvija and Milan Pantic honorably adorn the signs of two streets, while we still have no answers to the question of why independent investigations into the assassinations of our slain colleagues have not yet been ordered.

This is not the reform of media that you promised when you came to power. The situation is utterly alarming, yet the ruling coalition is procrastinating even with the adoption of the Media Development Strategy despite a firm pledge, made more than a year ago to us and to the European Union, to pass the strategy. Ignoring deadlines and prolonging the status quo directly jeopardizes the implementation of the fundamental European principle that the state must not control the media or influence editorial policy.

We know you are eagerly awaiting the decision from Brussels on the country's candidacy for EU membership, but please note that at this moment Serbia is not offering any satisfactory answers to our questions, let alone Europe's. Instead of finally stepping into the media reform sphere, it seems that the government is stepping into a new election campaign, in which brokering deals with coalition partners is more important than achieving European standards.

We invite you to do everything in your power so that journalists in Serbia may stop living in poverty, corruption and fear.

UNS, NUNS, NDNV, ANEM and Local Press

Belgrade, April 6, 2011

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