Samstag, 20.04.2019 22:15 Uhr

Fair trials and free media in Europe

Verantwortlicher Autor: Carlo Marino Rome, 21.03.2019, 21:32 Uhr
Presse-Ressort von: Dr. Carlo Marino Bericht 4357x gelesen

Rome [ENA] Members of the European Parliament have warned the so-called ’frontrunners’ for EU accession in the Western Balkans - Serbia and Montenegro - that the rule of law must be respected if they are ever to achieve membership of the European Union. The warning comes from a committee meeting in the European Parliament regarding the Western Balkans, as press and media freedom violations continue in both the former Yugoslav

states.  "We keep witnessing backsliding, even in the so-called frontrunners [for EU membership in the region] Serbia and Montenegro," declared Spanish MEP Javier Couso Permuy, Vice Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. The two countries are known as the regional 'frontrunners' because their negotiations with the EU are at a more advanced stage than those of the other Balkan countries.  It’s easy to criticise the European Union : however, this week MEPs have shown the importance of European values in their warning to the Western Balkans: there must be no gradual decline in the quality of democracy for candidate countries. The rule of law must prevail. That means fair trials and free media.

So the Press Freedom Award given to Montenegrin investigative reporter Jovo Martinović by Reporters Without Borders Austria is especially welcome. It is not just a prize for him as he prepares to appeal his jail sentence, but also a signal that the media freedom community is watching Balkan governments. - We’ve seen two journalists beaten up with metal rods, Olivera Lakić was shot in the leg – that was just a warning. We were aware that there was an attack in the making. They were delighted with what happened in Malta and Slovakia, thinking, "if those guys who are already in the EU can get away with it, so can we…'” - Jovo Martinović, award-winning Montenegrin reporter.

Rule of law must be the backbone of democracy. No discounts or shortcuts are applicable and governments should have the courage to tell their populations that they are not doing this for Brussels, but for a better life for all their people. Montenegro has applied for EU accession but it is a moment the Balkans want the EU to turn a blind eye and if they don’t, they will turn to the Turks, Chinese or Russians. Turkey is already Montenegro's main strategic partner.

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