The New City hotel in the southern Serbian city of Nis has cancelled a debate organized by the Institute for European Affairs on freedom of expression.
The debate was scheduled for Monday evening. The Institute said that it was told by the hotel that the hall where the debate was to have been held was flooded because of a burst pipe.
“We doubt that is true since the hotel won’t allow the Institute access to the meeting hall and has offered no alternative,” the Institute said and added that talk show hosts Olja Beckovic and Ivanov Ivanovic were scheduled to speak along with Belgrade University professor Cedomir Cupic and others.
Beckovic and Ivanovic recently re-launched their talk shows on the Nova S TV which is part of the United Group like N1 TV. They were taken off the air on the B92 and Prva TV stations (which are now seen as close to the auhtorities) allegedly because the authorities were unhappy with what they had been saying.
A statement said that the Serbian president’s media advisor Suzana Vasiljevic initially agreed to appear at the debate but later cancelled, saying that she would speak in Beglrade on May 15.
The Institute said that the hotel is owned by Novica Toncevi, a high-ranking official of the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia (SPE - a member of President Aleksandar Vucic‘s ruling coalition).
The debate is part of a project financed by the German Embassy – Debating Relations Between Serbia and the European Union.