IFJ and EFJ Support Campaign for Independent Journalism and Pluralism in Republic of Macedonia

The

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its member the European

Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today supported the campaign for press freedom

and journalists' rights in the Former Yougoslav Republic of Macedonia.

"Macedonian journalists are under tremendous pressure from politicians and media

owners and the recent events show that the country reached a point where it's

simply becoming unbearable to work freely in journalism," said IFJ President

Jim Boumelha.

Hundreds of Macedonian journalists demonstrated in Skopje on 4 July to protests

against abusive lay-offs, political interference and drastic downsizing of media

activities.  "Media freedom is now seriously under threat in Macedonia and

there is a risk of installing a culture of fear among the profession," said Tamara

Chausidis, President of the IFJ/EFJ affiliate SSNM, the Independent Union of

Journalist and Media Professionals.

"Macedonia has had a poor record on press freedom over the past years and we

are concerned that an applicant country to the European Union does not deal

seriously with a fundamental right such as press freedom," said EFJ President

Arne König. "We hope that the European Commission will take our concerns into

account in their assessment on the progress of the country towards EU accession

and we call on Macedonian authorities to respect standards of press freedom and

journalists' rights".

Last month, the EFJ Annual Assembly in Belgrade adopted a resolution condemning

unfair working conditions in Macedonian media.

The EFJ says the situation in the media sphere in Macedonia is deteriorating after

several papers announced drastic downsizing and serious, experienced and well

respected journalists were immediately laid off for protesting publicly. In

total, over 200 journalist and media professionals risk losing their jobs in

the coming months. Four media outlets (dailies Shpic, Vreme, KoHa E re

and A1TV) risk closure due to the charges for tax evasions and mismanagement of

their owner. A high numbers of journalists are under constant pressure to work

for political or private interests. 

"Independence and pluralism in Macedonian media are seriously jeopardized"

according to the Independent Union of Journalist and Media Professionals and

the Macedonian Association of Journalists. "Silencing by firing or by using

other sophisticated economic and social pressures, seriously damages democratic

ambience in our society. Furthermore, those actions are a direct act against

the basic right of freedom of expression and speech in Macedonia." 

Authorities of Macedonia must take urgent action to improve the legislation and

to impose it in a non-selective way to protect journalists from arbitrary

dismissals by media owners who pay scant regard to standard procedures in order

to get rid of those who speak out against violations of basic rights, say the

IFJ and the EFJ.

For more information, please contact EFJ on + 32 2 235 22 00

The EFJ represents more than 250.000 members in over 30 countries