BELGRADE, 08.06.2018. – The Serbian government said on Thursday that a working group to draft the national media strategy had been formed and its chief named but later withdrew that claim following denials by two journalists’ organizations whose representatives were present at a meeting with Prime Minister Ana Brnabic.
In its initial press release, the government said that Culture and Information Ministry official Dejan Stojanovic was chosen to head the working group drafting the national media strategy, adding that media and journalist organizations will submit proposals to the working group so that it can start work on the strategy. “The goal is for all relevant media organizations to take part in drafting this important document so that solutions can be found which are in the interest of the media and the public,” it said.
The press release added that the media advisors to the president and prime minister Suzana Vasiljevic and Jelena Kovacevic who have been named to a Coordination Body formed to improve the position of the media along with representatives of several media and journalists organizations.
The Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS) and Independent Society of Journalists of Vojvodina (NDNV) reacted to the government press release, saying several things in it were not right including the claim that the working group and Coordination Body had been formed.
NUNS President Slavisa Lekic and NDNV President Nedim Sejdinovic told the Beta news agency that the working group and Coordination Body had not been formed and that Stojanovic had not been appointed. “We did have a proposal for the working group at the meeting but it was not formed. Stojanovic was nominated and he is an excellent candidate who I will vote for but we did not vote today,” Lekic said.
Sejdinovic added that the working group and Coordination Body are in the process of being formed but that none of the journalists’ organizations had decided whether to take part in them. “We still haven’t taken a final decision on participation in those working bodies, not until we know who is in them, what their mandates are, the rules and way they function. We will not allow ourselves to be used to create a better international image of media freedom in Serbia with nothing positive happening on the ground or with things even deteriorating,” he said.
This was Brnabic’s second meeting with media organizations. It was attended by Culture and Information Minister Vladan Vukosavljevic and the media advisors to the president and prime minister Suzana Vasiljevic and Jelena Kovacevic who have been named to a Coordination Body formed to improve the position of the media along with representatives of several media and journalists organizations. Representatives of the OSCE and the European Union Delegation in Serbia were also present and expressed readiness to provide assistance in the process of drafting the national media strategy.
N1/Beta, Belgrade, 09/06/2018