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Transmission

Macedonian Plan To Regulate Media Comes Under Fire

A newspaper stand in Skopje (file photo)
A newspaper stand in Skopje (file photo)
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The Macedonian government's plan to regulate the work of foreign media and distribution of foreign press and information has come under strong criticism both at home and abroad.

The EU hopeful's Social Democratic opposition and the Association of Journalists have accused populist Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's government of trying to limit media freedom.

The most controversial parts of the law on the import and the distribution of foreign press and dissemination of information, which was discussed in the first reading in the parliament last week, are the foreign minister's discretionary right to revoke foreign press accreditation and a provision about the polls that is ambiguously explained in the draft law.

Some of those who have read the law say the polling clause could be interpreted as referring to a journalist conducting a simple "vox pop" on the street, asking ordinary people about their opinion on current affairs.

Justice Minister Blerim Bedzeti said the updated draft of the law -- under which the authority for foreign press would move from the cabinet's secretariat to the Foreign Ministry -- would address all "technicalities" that were unclear.

"We have followed the discussion closely even in the part about the polls, and I think we will overcome this. Deputies have submitted amendments that will probably be acceptable for us," Bedzeti said.

Olivier Basille of the Paris-based organization Reporters Without Frontiers said it was unusual for an EU hopeful to target foreign media.

"If you want to join the EU, then you have to consider the EU press as part of your own press," Basille said.

He said some countries require accreditation of foreign journalists but only, for example, to regulate access to institutions and certain kind of information.

But, he said, in no way should foreign journalist be prevented from coming to Macedonia on their own to investigate and report on the country and ask citizens for their views.

"If you want to organize by the law that this is becoming impossible, then you organize a censorship, as clear as that," Basille said.

-- Written by Nedim Dervisbegovic based on reporting by Blagoja Kuzmanovski in Skopje and Rikard Jozwiak in Brussels
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Comments
     
by: Akron from: Canada
February 25, 2012 14:35
What if a foreighn journalist reports to the rest of the world that these people are being taught they are the Fathers of the white race and the beginning of the world's civilization? What if a journalist questions Gruevski's propaganda? They must be kept out so they don't confuse the people. Every fascist government does this.
In Response

by: Dog Bar from: Earth
February 26, 2012 14:55
Akron.. Don't you understand all Government do this Canadians do it. Russians do it. just it's a little less in your face thats all. The Americans/Brittish and the French are at it all the time,

Remember Democracy, Fascism, Comminist Regimes
don't work, Winston Churchhill World War Two leader of England.. Once said.. Democracy is the
best we have,
If any of these did work, We won't have poverty,
War, or World banks and Government going bankrup.
In Response

by: Igor Salavski from: Skopje
February 27, 2012 14:23
This is what was aired on state TV in Macedonia :

The first monologue contained prayer towards a deity in which grievances, alleged historical facts, laments over former and current issues and alleged low status of ethnic Macedonians in general were delivered. The male vocal also complaints about worldwide-reaching conspiracy by neighbors of ethnic Macedonians to falsify the historical truth at the disadvantage of Macedonians. After a pause, the deity answers in to all Macedonians, stating that he created them as "Makedonoids" - progenitors of the White race, besides two other races he created, the Mongoloids and the "Negroids", while all rest were Mulattoes, providing blessings to ethnic Macedonians and revealing eschatological role of ethnic Macedonian people, stating that he will soon arrive in the Republic of Macedonia to state the truth, open graves, including Alexander the Great's one, and bring all world to bow in front of Macedonia, which will cause understanding that Macedonians have divine primacy that is to be revealed causing the awe of all humankind.

You are right Akron. I guess now they want to shut up RFE and others in Skopje for being too critical.

by: Djean from: Skopje
February 27, 2012 10:20
Well the government already controls ALL of the media and destroyed the ones that do not agree with the so-called rebirth. Now all that is left is the foreign press.

by: Mac from: World
February 27, 2012 16:47
Why is RFE so modest with english languadge reports from Macedonia and the Balkans? This region, with this specific neo-nationalist country smack in the middle of it, is the powder keg in Europe, the cradle of historical conflicts.

by: Toma from: US
March 05, 2012 16:15
I have to agree with most of what has been said above. The government has indeed acted against various media sources who had been, up until the end of their operations, its main criticizers. And this is not healthy for a democratic republic. If the people who support this government were any less intelligent, the top political figures would soon not even need lame diversionary strategies and tactics to avoid essential issues in the country. Ex-post bickering and complaining creates this melodramatic situation.
But there is sunshine after every rainfall.. The people ought to be more persistent in their protests. Also, they need to quit these highly-debatable-but-less-likely claims of the Ancient Kingdom. It has been well over 2000 years - no need to fight over ancestors. More pressing issues need to be addressed rather than to continue fueling this feud with our neighbors in the South. I am merely saying that the embarrassing economy and lack of freedom to democratically oppose the government which is empowered by the people is more important than figuring out who Alexander the Great or Makedonski's true ancestors are. Left or right - they have both failed to lower the unemployment rate since Macedonia's independence. Living standards are skyrocketing, more and more people are forced to take out loans and various credits to keep up with the fast rate of change in energy and food prices while average wages have barely increased. So, spare us the monuments and the other shiny objects. Life ought to be improved and limiting the liberties of the Macedonian people (speech, rights and media) should be met with an equally strong, yet peaceful and carefully deliberated opposition against the government.

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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