The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) and the Croatian Journalists' Union (SNH) said on Monday they strongly condemned "PM Andrej Plenkovic's attack on the media, interference in the editorial policy of RTL, Nova TV, and N1 television channels, and criticism of the reporters and analysts who covered the recent local election."
“Only a few hours after declaring the HDZ’s ‘colossal victory’ in the local election, Prime Minister Plenkovic, completely unprovoked, once again attacked the media, accusing them of ‘being paid to vilify a political camp’ and of intentionally misnaming, in debates in the first election round, the HDZ’s candidate for Zagreb mayor, Davor Filipovic. He also said that Drazen Lalic, a professor at the Zagreb Faculty of Political Science, was paid by broadcasters to smear HDZ candidates,” the two associations said in a press release carried by state agency Hina.
N1 television’s reporter, Elvir Mesanovic, also asked Plenkovic to explain why did he never grant them an interview, to which Plenkovic replied by calling N1 “an ideologically biased television.”
“What we consider unacceptable… are 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 hirelings and to mark as targets ‘analysts who vilify others for money’ is not the kind of discourse used by politicians, let alone the prime ministers of civilised and democratic EU countries,” the HND and SNH said.
They noted that this was not the first time PM Plenkovic was pointing the finger at reporters who are not to his liking, trying to “impose himself as the only possible editor-in-chief of all Croatian media, which, according to him, should work and be professional, objective and independent like the (state television) HRT, which, interestingly, he never criticises.”
“To claim that commercial broadcasters intentionally demonize failed HDZ candidates, to name a university professor and guest analyst a hireling, and to call reporters who misnamed what until yesterday was an anonymous HDZ member tendentious only shows open ambitions by PM Andrej Plenkovic and the HDZ to completely control the public sphere and determine the limits of media freedoms in Croatia,” the two organisations said.
“During the term of the first Croatian president Franjo Tudjman, after the HDZ’s election defeats, we had ‘green, yellow and red devils’, while today, during Plenkovic’s term, we have ‘leftist analysts’ and ‘ideological televisions’,” the HND and SNH said, recalling Plenkovic’s having recently condemned, together with European Council President Charles Michel, the Belarusian authorities’ forced landing of a civil plane and arrest of reporter and opposition activist Roman Protasevich who was on board.
“We, Croatian reporters, expect Andrej Plenkovic to show the same amount of care for us and our professional freedoms as he does for those of our Belarusian colleagues, nothing more and nothing less. Otherwise, we will consider his public threats as ‘an unprecedented and impermissible move’, which, just like Lukashenko’s, ‘requires an international investigation’,” the HND and SNH said.
“In our case, minimum civility on the part of the prime minister in public interaction with reporters would mean a colossal victory for democracy.”