Home Featured Free media face crackdown from Croatia’s new leaders – POLITICO
Free media face crackdown from Croatia’s new leaders – POLITICO

Free media face crackdown from Croatia’s new leaders – POLITICO

by host

“We find ourselves in a situation where our colleagues are being deemed enemies of the state,” said Hrvoje Zovko, the president of the Croatian Journalists’ Association.

During a press conference on Tuesday, the association said there had been a surge in “despicable threats” against journalists, including death threats and threats of assault, which are being investigated by the police.

“The behavior of the Homeland Movement should worry Mr Plenković, since they are now his coalition partners,” Zovko said.

Novosti, a weekly known for its investigative journalism and coverage of the far-right, is a particular thorn in the Homeland Movement’s side. The paper operates through a unique funding scheme. Officially, it is the newspaper for Croatia’s Serb minority and not subject to commercial interests or advertising pressures. Instead, it’s funded by the Croatian state budget.

This has made Novosti even more despised by nationalists, who resent that these journalists are ostensibly paid by the Croatian budget to criticize the country. The nationalists have demanded that funding for Novosti be cut and that the outlet be “subject to the free market” as part of coalition negotiations.

The attacks on journalists were condemned by the European Federation of Journalists, who said that if the Homeland Movement’s demands are accepted it would constitute a “serious violation of the rule of law and the Constitution,” said the EFJ president Maja Sever.

Plenković, who rose to prominence as an MEP in Brussels before becoming prime minister in 2016, has largely kept Croatia away from the influence of illiberal neighbors such as Hungary or Serbia.

A rollback of media freedom under his watch could spell trouble for Plenković, whose name is rumored to be in the ring for a top Brussels job at the heart of EU lawmaking — even as a successor to current Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

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