European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the regional group of the
International Federation of Journalists, today condemned a warning issued by Robert
Fico, the Prime Minister of Slovakia,
over media coverage of what he says are trouble-making extremist groups in
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. Fico said
his government might act to stop reporting that it considers damaging to
Slovakian national interest.
EFJ accused him of sending an ‘intimidating signal' about the future of press
freedom in Slovakia.
sort of loose political talk creates an intimidating atmosphere for journalists,"
said Aidan White, European
Federation of Journalists General Secretary. "The Prime Minister would do well
to consider the damage he does to press freedom and the reputation of Slovakia in Europe
when he speaks like this."
EFJ says that political debate and discussion about tough issues such as rights
of minorities cannot be ignored. "Complex issues need to be reported in context
by well informed journalists," said White. "But journalists and media cannot do
their job well when government starts throwing its weight around."
said many countries in Europe had to deal with
internal discussions over issues such as regional independence, border
arrangements or political controversy with neighbours. Slovakia is not
a special case, he said.
an atmosphere of self-censorship and intimidation will not solve problems - if
anything, it only make matters worse," said White. "That's why we support
Slovak journalists who are determined to protect their editorial independence
and professionalism from political interference."
said that later this month he will visit Slovakia
to meet with the Slovak Syndicate of Journalists, media leaders and state
officials to discuss the problems that journalists face.
events point to a growing crisis for media freedom in the region," said White.
"It's time for tolerance and dialogue and less intemperate politics when it
comes to media affairs."
further information contact IFJ on +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000
journalists in 123 countries worldwide