May 2, 2003




Mr. Milo Djukanovic
Prime Minister

By Fax

Your Excellency,

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is deeply concerned about the decision of the Employment Centre of Montenegro to stop advertising available jobs in the Montenegrin daily, Vijesti.

On 29 April, the Employment Centre, the government institution responsible for employment policy, stopped submitting material for publication in Vijesti after five years of cooperation, thereby depriving Vijesti’s readers of information regularly printed in the newspaper’s Wednesday supplement, “Available Jobs”. Because there was no official notice from the Employment Centre about ending this cooperation, Vijesti’s editor-in-chief Slavoljub Scekic called the Centre’s director, Branimir Bojanic, to ask for the reasons behind the decision. Bojanic’s answer was, “Do you, Mr. Scekic, read your newspaper?” According to SEEMO’s sources, Mr. Bojanic had personally extended the contract with Vijesti less than two months earlier.

SEEMO is informed that the Employment Centre has now decided to publish future advertisements in the daily newspapers Pobjeda and Publika, which together have a circulation of only 10,000 copies.

In SEEMO’s opinion, the Employment Centre’s decision to end its cooperation with Vijesti is politically motivated since Vijesti has the largest circulation of any newspaper in Montenegro (20,000 copies) and is the independent daily which enjoys the greatest trust among the country’s citizens. According to the most recent CEDEM polls, Montenegro’s citizens put their largest trust in Vijesti (21.6 per cent), followed by Dan (14.8 per cent), Pobjeda (13.8 per cent), Vecernje Novosti (7.1 per cent) and Publika (3.4 per cent).

Unfortunately, this step taken by the Employment Centre is reminiscent of past decisions taken during Milosevic’s dictatorship in Serbia and the unified DPS rule in Montenegro.

SEEMO urges Your Excellency to revise this decision by the Employment Centre, since there is a valid contract, which obliges it to further advertise with Vijesti under conditions signed by both parties.

We thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Oliver Vujovic

SEEMO Secretary General