Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Friday that the Media Strategy draft, with changes that media and journalists' organisations described as unacceptable and not agreed upon, had been sent to Brussels by mistake.
In an interview with N1 TV, she added that the error occurred when some substantial issues were taken out.
“I want to understand why they were taken out, who did that and what were the remarks of those who did that,” she told N1 reporter Nikola Radisic.
Brnabic added she wanted to sit together with media and journalists’ organisation and see what that was about.
“I have never dealt with the details. I deal with what I have as a priority. When I finish with that, I look for other things and realise that I haven’t heard about some for a month, as it has been the case with Media Strategy. So, I didn’t know, and that’s why I sent a letter. To understand what it was about,” Brnabic said.
She added she could just sit and wait for the European Commission (EC) reaction, and then to sit with the Working Group for drafting the Strategy.
“I didn’t want that. I’m trying to save some time. Also, I’m trying to have a completely open communication channel with media and journalists’ organisations. If we didn’t want to have the best possible Strategy implemented in an inclusive and transparent process, I wouldn’t have done this,” Brnabic said.
She reiterated she did not know what happened when the Strategy draft was sent with disputed changes and that she was sorry about it. “We will sit down and see how to set it right.”
Asked how she thought to restore the confidence that had been severely shattered, Brnabic said she believed the trust had never been wholly built but added she had never lost it.
“I think that an aim of working (together) on this Strategy is to have that confidence,” PM said.
Regarding the guarantees that the implementation of “fixed” strategy would become a part of the accompanying media laws, Brnabic said that the same working group which took part in drafting the Strategy and was still participating would work on those media laws.
“They (the laws) must follow the Strategy. It won't have any sense if they are opposite. We put hard work in it. Finally, we will have an OSCE and EC opinion. We’ll work on media laws as we worked on the Media Strategy,” Prime Minister said.
In its 2019 report on Serbia's progress toward the European Union, the EC mentioned a number of remarks regarding the situation with media freedom in Serbia.