March 13, 2009


Vienna, 13/03/2009

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) condemns the recent verbal accusations levelled against the news agency Makfax by a state official in Macedonia (Republic of Macedonia/FYROM).

According to information before SEEMO, on 10 March 2009, Marjan Madzovski, Cabinet Chief of the President of the Macedonian Parliament, accused Makfax of unprofessional behaviour, inaccurate news reporting, and breaching diplomatic protocol.

Makfax had published news about Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek’s visit to Skopje based on his official agenda, which clearly specified meetings with President Branko Crvenkovski and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. Speaker of Parliament Trajko Veljanovski, who also met with Prime Minister Topolanek, was not mentioned.

When Makfax posted the news of Prime Minister Topolanek’s visit to Skopje on its website, no press release had been issued by the Cabinet of the Speaker of Parliament regarding a meeting between the Czech Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament Veljanovski. The same day, after the meeting was officially confirmed, Makfax published the news on its website.

Makfax has sought an apology from Chief of Cabinet Madzovski for the slanderous accusations, but so far none has been forthcoming.

Commenting on the accusations, SEEMO Secretary General, Oliver Vujovic, said, SEEMO strongly condemns such verbal attacks, as well as any government or state actions that involve pressure on journalists or threats to the principle of freedom of expression. Vujovic added, It is vital for journalists to be able to report freely on current affairs. Any attempts to influence media independence are unacceptable in a modern society. SEEMO therefore calls on the authorities in Skopje to put an end to political pressure on the media.