EFJ Protests Over ‘Intimidating Signal' to Media From Slovak Prime Minister


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

neighbouring Hungary.


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