The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has joined the Croatian Journalists Association (HND) and the Croatian Journalists Union (SNH) in condemning Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic's verbal attacks on media and reporters after the local runoff election on 30 May, state agency Hina reported on Tuesday.
The HND said on its website that EFJ Secretary-General Ricardo Gutiérrez described as “totally unacceptable that journalists are being attacked by both the Prime Minister and, just recently, the President of Croatia.”
“Blaming journalists in this way is an attempt to undermine their credibility in order to limit their role as a counterweight. To insult or threaten journalists is to insult and threaten citizens, and to undermine the right of citizens to access free, independent information,” the HND quoted Gutiérrez as saying.
The EFJ said on its website that shortly after the second round of local elections in Croatia, Plenkovic “once again attacked the media,” accusing them of “being paid to vilify a political camp” and accusing Drazen Lalic, an analyst and professor at the Zagreb Faculty of Political Science, of being paid by broadcasters to smear HDZ candidates, targeting also HND president Hrvoje Zovko, who strongly condemned his attack on the media.
The EFJ carried a statement issued on Monday by the HND and SNH in which the two organisations deplored “the open threats PM Plenkovic has made against all our colleagues and media which do not follow his and the HDZ’s ideology.
“To name all those who critically speak about candidates ahead of elections and to mark as targets ‘those who calumniate people for money’ is not the kind of discourse that should be used by politicians, let alone prime ministers of civilized and democratic EU countries,” the two organisations said in the statement carried by the EFJ.
The EFJ also quoted the HND and SNH as saying that such attacks only show Plenkovic and his HDZ party’s ambition “to completely control the public sphere and determine the limits of media freedoms in Croatia”.