The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) has sent a letter to Croatian members of the European Parliament expressing fear that independence of media and freedom of expression have been jeopardised, warning that the situation in this sector has additionally deteriorated with the arrival of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ)-led Patriotic Coalition to power.

"Although on 1 July 2013 Croatia became a full European Union member-state after fulfilling all accession prerequisites, including those in the field of media and freedom of expression, the situation on that front is increasingly worsening and has further deteriorated with the arrival of the Patriotic Coalition led by the HDZ to power. Unfortunately, EU agencies have left all the care for independence of media and freedom of expression to national governments, which enables violations of the fundamental principles advocated by the European Union," the association said in the letter.

The HND recalls that in an interview last year with the Globus weekly, HDZ chief Tomislav Karamarko said that when his party comes to power, citizens will be free to think whatever they like when they are in their homes, but not in public places and that journalists will have to support such policy of his government.

"Mr. Karamarko has never retracted this statement, nor has he apologised to citizens of Croatia," the HND said.

The HND went on to say that "disciplining" of politically unsuitable reporters and media began as soon as the HDZ-led Patriotic Coalition came to power after the recent parliamentary election.

The HND reiterated its criticism of Zlatko Hasanbegovic as the new Culture Minister, describing him as "a historian who has shown publicly that he does not recognise anti-fascism as a fundamental tenet of the Croatian Constitution."

The HND also finds fault with Hasanbegovic for his decision to dissolve the ministry's Commission on Non-Profit Media only six days after he took office, and accuses him of doing it "ignoring the rules, without prior notice or explanation and without analysing the Commission's performance, falsely claiming that there is no longer any need for such commission."

The association recalls that Minister Hasanbegovic has stated that his ministry will no longer provide funds for non-profit media and that he has also said that dealing with media only makes his  job of minister more difficult, although the minister of culture is obliged to care for a media policy, according to the letter.

The association says that Karamarko, who serves as Deputy Prime Minister in the new government, is now accusing media of vilifying current cabinet ministers although they provide evidence of the impermissible behaviour of ministers from the HDZ-led coalition.

The HND writes in the letter that Karamarko is accusing the HND leaders of insinuations when they ask him to apologise for his attacks on media and when they call for the culture minister's resignation.

The HND says that Karamarko and Hasanbegovic see nothing wrong with a recent protest against the temporary suspension of a local TV station for hate speech, which was led by the reporter who had used the hate speech and by a reporter known for his sympathy for the Independent State of Croatia, ruled by the Nazi-style Ustasha regime during the Second World War. The protest involved a deputy parliament speaker from a junior partner in the Patriotic Coalition, the HND says.

It also notes that no Croatian government has ever adopted a serious media policy or ensured legal prerequisites for activities of politically independent media or market competition for commercial media under equal conditions.

It also complains that none of the previous governments ensured strict compliance with the existing laws or the right of the public to have access to timely and full information in all areas of importance for decision-making and for election processes.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.