- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- All Balkan Countries
A newly released report on media freedom throughout the world has ranked Montenegro at the bottom of the Balkans for the second year in a row.
The World Press Freedom Index, released by the Paris-based watchdog Reporters Without Borders on Wednesday, drew a link between the economic crisis and media problems in the Balkans.
"The economic crisis accentuated the Balkan media’s problems – use of the media for private or criminal interests, unfair competition in very small markets, and self-censorship by a growing number of badly paid journalists," the survey finds.
Montenegro again ranked at the bottom of the list of Balkan countries, standing at 107 out of the 179 countries covered in the survey. Only Kosovo and Serbia improved their 2010 placement slightly, coming in at 86 and 80, respectively.
All the other countries in the region dropped compared to their ranking in 2010. Romania came in at 47, Bosnia and Herzegovina at 58, Croatia at 68, and Bulgaria at 80.
Albania dropped signficiantly from 80th place to 96th, and Macedonia from 68th to 94th.
The media watchdog found that the work of journalists in the Balkans is also often hampered by inefficient and corrupt judicial systems.
"Judicial officials – many of them poorly trained, allied with the government and often corrupt – seem more interested in harassing the media than ending impunity for those who threaten or physically attack journalists.
"This was the case, for example in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia, which lost 40 per cent of its media with the closure of Plus Produkcija, a company that owned three dailies and the leading privately-owned TV station," the report concluded.
It also noted signficiant differences between the European Union's highest scorer, Finland, which also topped the global rating, and its lowest scorers, including Bulgaria.
"Bulgaria and Greece have kept their status as the European Union’s bad performers. Targeted attacks and death threats against journalists marked the past year in Bulgaria, where concerns about print media pluralism grew."
Finland and Norway topped this year's rankings, while Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea were the worst countries for media freedom.
Independent media voices in Macedonia are being silenced, warns the Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation, SEEMO.
The Hague Tribunal has been successful in bringing wartime commanders to justice but hasn’t met expectations on reconciliation, chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz told BIRN.