The International Press Institute (IPI) and its affiliate, the South and East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), today began a two-day press freedom mission to the Republic of Macedonia / Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in concert with a joint delegation of freedom of expression and media development groups.
IPI Press Freedom Adviser for Europe and North America Steven M. Ellis and SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic joined delegates from the Open Society Media Program, the Global Forum for Media Development, Freedom House, Index on Censorship, Article 19, the Media Diversity Institute and others in the mission.
Participants on the mission met with journalists, members of civil society and representatives of government, and are scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.
The mission comes at a worrying time for media freedom in the country. SEEMO conducted a press freedom mission to Macedonia last month and in a report released yesterday raised concerns about: selective implementation of laws and regulations relating to media; a lack of transparency in government-funded advertising campaigns and a lack of independence of regulatory bodies and the public broadcaster; the continued criminalisation of defamation; and failures by journalists to live up to professional standards.
IPI Press Freedom & Communications Manager Anthony Mills said: “The press freedom environment in the country appears to be deteriorating. We are seeking, through this mission, to shine a spotlight on the worrying media developments.”
Vujovic added: “The fact that this is SEEMO’s second visit to Macedonia in such a short period demonstrates how deeply concerned we are regarding the media situation in the country. We plan to observe upcoming developments carefully.