July 10, 2024

10.07.2024 – RTK Director General Resigns Amid Controversy

The recent resignation of Shkumbin Ahmetxhekaj, @Shkumbin_Ah, the Director General of Radio Television of Kosovo (RTK – https://www.rtklive.com/), has drawn significant concern and attention. Ahmetxhekaj, a journalist with the Kosovo Public Broadcaster, cited “seven months of political pressure” and significant disagreements with the RTK Board over fundamental issues regarding the broadcaster’s future as the reasons for his departure.

Ahmetxhekaj expressed his frustration over the alleged lack of support from the Board, emphasizing the need for a General Director to have full backing in forming their team and protection from political interference. Despite his willingness to continue working until the completion of certain projects, his request was allegedly ignored by the Board, leading to his resignation. He underscored the importance of protecting RTK from political pressures to ensure its role as a public broadcaster serving the people’s interests. Through a post on Facebook, Ahmetxhekaj said that his decision does not mean surrender, but is “the culmination of a 7-month political pressure”.

The RTK Board’s susceptibility to political influence has been questioned.

Various officials close to the Government and Members of Parliament (MPs), have been accused of allegedly attempting to exert partisan control over RTK, a practice deemed unacceptable in a democratic society. There have also been complaints about the management of Radio Kosova 1, as part of RTK.

Financial stability for RTK remains a pressing issue, with the Government and Assembly called upon to ensure adequate funding and resolve property-related matters instead of applying political pressure and cutting the budget by half. The broadcaster’s role in maintaining media freedom and supporting Kosovo’s democratic processes is crucial, and its staff must be able to work without political or financial constraints.

The resignation of Shkumbin Ahmetxhekaj from his position as Director General of Radio and Television of Kosovo (RTK) due to alleged political pressure and disagreements with the Board has highlighted concerns about potential political interference in the public broadcaster. The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) will be closely monitoring this case to ensure that RTK’s journalists and staff can operate without political or financial interference, safeguarding media freedom in Kosovo.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.

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