Ana Brnabic, Serbia’s Prime Minister said on Tuesday she felt awful about the murders of journalists that had not been solved, but that the real address for that question was the judiciary, not her.
Participating in the Insider independent production’s debate about the situation with media in Serbia, Brnabic said: “I won’t allow (you) to address the Prime Minister about the lack of judicial efficiency… You should address the judiciary,” she said, answering a question by Vladimir Radomirovic, the president of the Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS).
She added she did not want “to say that the media situation is perfect because it is not. I only want to go away from the statements like – it has never been worse.”
Serbia has been under the international pressure to improve the rule of law and media freedom as conditions for the European Union membership.
The EU ministers warned Belgrade on Tuesday that the lack of progress in freedom of expression is causing increasing concern, adding that the Serbian authorities have to guarantee conditions for the unobstructed freedom of expression and independence of the media as priorities, including reinforcing efforts in investigations of attacks on journalists.
Slavisa Lekic, the president of the Independent Association of Journalists in Serbia (NUNS) has said that at the news conferences which for the authorities say are open to all reporters, “the questions agreed in advance” are often heard.
“For the first time in Serbia’s recent history, we have news conferences with the questions that have been agreed upon in advance. You have a gathering of media people where it is precisely known who will ask what,” Lekic said.He added that there was “a practice that president (Aleksandar Vucic) attacks journalists when asked a potentially unpleasant question at his news conferences.”
Brnabic said she could not see a problem with the questions agreed upon in advance.
“Everybody is invited and they can ask whatever they want after (the pre-agreed questions),” she added.
Lekic said that the most serious problem with media in Serbia was the safety of the journalists.
According to NUNS’ data in 2013, when the currently ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) was already in power, there were 23 attacks on journalists.
“In 2015, there were 56, while last year the number went up to 92. So, it’s getting higher year after year,” Lekic said, adding he referred to both verbal and physical attacks, as well as to pressures and threats.