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News 30 Apr 12

EU and US Urged To Help Media in Montenegro

Senior officials of media outlet Vijesti have sent a letter to representatives of the US, EU countries and the EU citing threats to independent media in Montenegro and asking for support.

Milena Milosevic
BIRN
Podgorica

Vijesti director Zeljko Ivanovic and editor-in-chief Mihailo Jovovic handed a letter to the Head of the EU delegation in Podgorica and the ambassadors of the US, Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy on Monday.

The letter was prompted by recent statements by Milo Djukanovic, chairman of Montenegro's ruling party. In an interview broadcast on Friday by Atlas TV, Djukanovic harshly criticized Vijesti and called the media outlet "a monster".

In their letter, Ivanovic and Jovovic say that they have been exposed to frequent attacks and threats and accuse Djukanovic of conducting a "hysterical" campaign against Vijesti, of which the Atlas TV interview is just the latest example.

"We are very worried due to the atmosphere of lynch-law and terror in Montenegro, which is a severe impediment to the work of independent media," the letter reads.

Skeptical about receiving support from domestic institutions, Ivanovic and Jovovic have asked the ambassadors of the four countries and the head of the EU delegation to inform their governments about "the deteriorating atmosphere in Montenegro" and to do whatever is in their power to do in order to prevent further attacks on media freedom.

Representatives of Montenegro's opposition media handed a petition on freedom of speech to the EU in March, following an attack on a Vijesti journalist. The petition's signatories argued then that top officials are responsible for or connected to the attacks on journalists.

Strengthening media freedom is a key EU-accession priority for Montenegro. To date, little progress appears to have been made in ending attacks on journalists and creating a more secure environment for the work of independent media.

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