Erosion of Media Freedom in the Balkans: Shadows of the Nineties
How Media Freedom Is Disappearing in the BalkansVoices
As the Balkan countries progress towards Europe at different stages of the accession process, media freedom and journalists’ lives in the region are increasingly at risk. Authoritarian political culture, weak institutions, government abuse, and an unfavorable economic environment are among the main culprits for this worrying trend. But how much of this decline is also owed to the lack of willingness by the EU to seriously engage the Western Balkans on media freedom?
During the 1990s, the Open Society Foundations, among other international donors, heavily supported independent media throughout the Balkans, which sprang up during some of the most taxing times of war. Today, the majority of these media houses have either shut down, are about to be closed, or have been sold to companies in Greece, Germany, or elsewhere. Even more alarmingly, some media outlets which had been central in promoting freedom of speech are directly in the service of new authoritarian leaders throughout the region. Unfortunately, the erosion of the free media is a trend happening elsewhere nearby—in Turkey as well as in neighboring Balkan countries already in the EU like Hungary and Italy.
- Milka Tadic Mijovic is among the most highly acclaimed journalists and civic activists in Montenegro and the Western Balkans. She is the director and a co-founder of the most widely read Montenegrin weekly magazine, Monitor, and has designed and managed numerous projects, conferences, and strategies on media freedom, rule of law, and human rights in Montenegro and the region. Fearlessly writing about and defying Milosevic’s nationalistic policies in the late nineties, Tadic Mijovic was the first journalist in Montenegro who was fired for criticizing his rule. Her fight against corruption and for media independence in Montenegro lives on in the new, equally challenging, sociopolitical context in Montenegro. She is regularly harassed and has repeatedly been physically threatened in her country for speaking against corruption and other government wrongdoings. For this, Tadic Mijovic has been identified as one of 100 Information Heroes by Reporters Without Borders. Among many notable posts she has held, Tadic Mijovic is a former member of the Open Society Foundations’ Board in Montenegro and the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Mass Media.
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