Washington, 12 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - A senior U.S. official says America and Western European nations must nurture a free press in the former Yugoslavia through aggressive support and economic aid when possible.
However, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor John Shattuck also says the West must take care that its support does not stifle the independence of a free press by making it too dependent on outside help.
Shattuck spoke in Washington yesterday at a conference on press freedom in the Balkans. It was sponsored by the U.S. Information Agency's international radio service, the Voice of America, and by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, an independent radio network funded by the U.S. Congress.
Shattuck cited Belgrade's B-92 radio and Zagreb's Radio 101 as examples of free media in ex-Yugoslavia deserving of Western support. He says the struggle of stations like these cannot be underestimated. But he also says that, where there is a free media, there is an opportunity for democracy to grow.