The European Federation
of Journalists (EFJ) today called for the A1TV television network in Macedonia to
be allowed to continue broadcasting following political and judicial pressure
that threatens the future of independent and critical journalism in the
at A1 TV, and the newspapers Vreme, Shpic and Koha e Re, have issued calls for
help following action to freeze the accounts of their company and in the face
of a court action that they claim is in violation of the country's
Since January 27 A1 TV
has been airing its programmes from the street in front of the Government
building, at sub-zero temperatures, in protest over the freezing of the bank
accounts of media outlets owned by controversial businessman Velija Ramkovski
who is in detention accused of tax offences.
The station and the
group's newspapers have long been targeted by the government for vigorous
journalism exposing official corruption and for its pro-European Union
Journalists claim the
freezing of the accounts by the courts is direct pressure and an attempt to
close down the group.
"There are reasons to
be seriously worried by this action," said Aidan White, EFJ General Secretary.
"When the target of the government and the courts are the most critical media
in the country, it raises legitimate concerns about the real intentions of the
Government in this case."
The country's political opposition
has also expressed its dissatisfaction with the state of media freedom in
Macedonia. On Friday, nearly all of the country's opposition parties launched a
parliament boycott, arguing that the move to shut down media outlets meant
"death for a democracy".
The EFJ notes that
the group have been under constant pressure of the Government for years and
have been labelled as "traitors of the nation" and "spies"
because of its fiercely independent editorial line and its investigation of corruption
and governmental abuse.
"We ask the
authorities to think again and to consider the threat to press freedom in this
case," said White. "We note, too, that Macedonia's record on press freedom is
poor and has been noted as such at European Union level."
The EFJ represents over 260,000 journalists
in 30 countries
For more information contact
the EFJ at +32 2 235.2200