The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is alarmed about the efforts to suppress critical reporting regarding religious issues by the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric (Македонската православна црква – Охридска архиепископија – МПЦ ОА) in North Macedonia. SEEMO expresses solidarity with journalist Marjan Nikolovski (Марјан Николовски), editor-in-chief and founder of religija.mk (religion.mk – https://religija.mk/), who is working for the TV station Sitel.
SEEMO also supports the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (ZNM – Здружението на новинарите на Македонијa – ЗНМ – https://znm.org.mk/en/) that strongly condemns the attempts of church authorities to silence critical journalism and freedom of expression. ZNM calls the Church leadership to engage in an open and constructive dialogue with the media community, recognizing that such engagement is essential for the betterment of society as a whole.
The focus of recent developments revolves around Nikolovski’s reporting, which led to a summons from the Church leadership for a church-court proceeding. The Church wanted allegedly that he appears at the Office of the Skopje Diocese for an evidentiary hearing by the Synod in order to place evidence for his writings on the website Religija.mk.
SEEMO is alarmed about the fact, that in a secular state a Church invites a journalist to the Church court. The Church in North Macedonia must understand, that only civil courts are a place for a court process if anyone feels offended.
SEEMO is also alarmed about threats and attacks against NIkolovski over social media by some Church supporters and is asking the state authorities in Skopje to react and investigate every case against the journalist.
Allegations by the Church suggest that he is spreading hatred among believers, which put the Synod in danger.
The Ohrid Archbishopric (OA) was an autonomous Eastern Orthodox archbishopric of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) with jurisdiction over the territory of North Macedonia. Last year, in 2023, after the reconciliation of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Macedonian Orthodox Church, the OA was integrated into MOC.
In line with its commitment to promoting open dialogue and strengthening trust between journalists and religious communities, the Association of Journalists of Macedonia submitted on 10 January 2024 a requesto for a meeting with the Head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric (Поглаварот на Македонската православна црква – Охридска архиепископија – МПЦ ОА). According to ZNM the initiative aims to improve communication with journalists and videographers, and they sincerely hope for a positive response that will benefit all stakeholders, especially citizens who have an indisputable right to be informed.
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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