Western Balkans asks EU for help on media freedom situation in Albania – EURACTIV.com


Six journalism associations from the Western Balkans, representing more than 8,200 journalists, wrote to the European Neighborhood and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi, the European Federation of Journalists and the European Broadcasting Union regarding the current situation of the media freedom in Albania.

Under the aegis of the SafeJournalist network, they raised two key questions and asked for feedback, support and assistance to protect freedom of expression and media freedom, in line with the Copenhagen criteria, an integral part of the criteria for accession of the country to the EU.

“Albania must ensure that European standards of freedom of expression and the media are respected”, reads the letter, signed by the Association of Journalists of BiH, the Media Union of Montenegro, the Association of Croatian Journalists, Association of Journalists of Kosovo, Association of Journalists of Macedonia. , and the Association of Independent Journalists of Serbia.

The first concern was the postponement of the election of the director general of the public service broadcasting (Radio Televizioni Shqiptar-RTSH) for more than seven months.

“We express our concern that there is no substantial justification for the delay in electing a new CEO, whose role is crucial to the performance of RTSH as the only service media. public in Albania, ”the letter said.

Organizations have raised concerns about the Transition Director’s proposals to change the organizational structure beyond his tenure. This, they said, could lead to a potential abuse of power, which could “have an impact on overall media freedom in Albania”.

The second issue raised is the creation of a new Media, Media and Information Agency which will centralize all government communications, monitor media and public opinion and be headed by Prime Minister Edi spokesman. Rama.

In the letter, Safe Journalists expressed concerns that this would shut the door on journalists, especially investigative or critical journalists, further hampering media freedom.

These questions have been raised in the context of a bill currently pending before parliament. The “anti-defamation package” is a set of provisions that would place all online media under the direct supervision of the government-appointed Audiovisual Media Authority.

The entity would have the power to impose significant fines, order retractions and apply pop-ups against any media that it deems to have violated the fake news and defamation rules. The Albanian parliament recently appointed Rama’s former communications chief to oversee the board, despite calls from the EU delegation in Tirana and the media to ensure the entity remains independent.

The “anti-defamation package” was passed by parliament and then vetoed by the country’s president, Ilir Meta. Back in parliament, it takes a simple majority vote to become law.

(Alice Taylor | sortie.al)

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