The head of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Jim Boumelha, has sent a letter to the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) urging the Croatian Parliament, Parliament Speaker Zeljko Reiner, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic to stop the undemocratic silencing of journalists and free media.
The letter was also addressed to Deputy Prime Minister Bozo Petrov, the chairs of the parliamentary Information and Media Committee and Education, Science and Culture Committee, Andrija Mikulic and Gordana Rusak respectively, and Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic.
The IJF said that journalists' organisations worldwide were very concerned about attacks on freedom of speech, freedom of the press and media freedom by members of the Croatian government and representatives of the majority in the Croatian Parliament.
The IFJ, which represents 600,000 journalists across the globe, called on Prime Minister Oreskovic to reconsider the decision of Culture Minister Hasanbegovic to withhold financial support for non-profit media and dissolve the Commission on Non-Profit Media before the expiry of its term. It said that the culture minister's statement that the media and media policy only put a burden on the Culture Ministry was unacceptable in a true democracy and could not go unquestioned.
The IFJ also expressed concern about statements by Tomislav Karamarko, First Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party, and said that the statement by Zeljko Glasnovic, a member of Parliament from the ruling coalition, that lustration in the media sector was most important because the media were the only barrier to a true democracy, was problematic for Croatia's transition democracy.
The IFJ said that the non-profit media in Croatia had developed as an oasis of critical and professional journalism, focusing on topics ignored by other media, thus fostering the freedoms and rights of minorities and promoting democracy, tolerance, multiculturalism and pluralism.
These media today are the main guarantor of investigative journalism in Croatia, which has almost completely disappeared from the mainstream media, the IFJ said, reminding the Croatian leaders that freedom of speech, media freedom and independent journalism are the guardians of true democracy.