HND, sasa lekovic.JPG
Croatian Journalists Association (HND) president Sasa Lekovic
Photograph: HINA /Zvonimir KUHTIĆ/ zk

Croatian Journalists Association (HND) president Sasa Lekovic presented on Tuesday a report by international journalists' associations and organisations protecting freedom of expression on the situation in Croatian journalism and political pressures, which identifies as the main problem the government's interference in the work of the public broadcaster Croatian Radio and Television (HRT) and warns of an increase in nationalist and revisionist discourse which, it says, is being used to intimidate critical media.

Lekovic said that the report, compiled in late June, also warned of mass-scale personnel restructuring and programming changes at the HRT as evidence of the outgoing government's attempt to colonise the public broadcaster for its ends.

The report notes that the national parliament, led by the right-leaning Patriotic Coalition and the centrist Bridge party, after barely a month in office, replaced the then HRT director-general and appointed an acting director-general who then demoted and reassigned around 70 journalists and editors in a move that critics call an idelogically motivated purge.

The international associations also note in the report that last month the government made it possible for acting HRT director-general Sinisa Kovacic to stay in office until the end of early parliamentary elections set for September 11. Such a move is suspicious and accentuates accusations about the HRT being deliberately politicised, they say.

The latest changes, carried out in line with a law adopted by the previous, SDP-led government, are contrary to the promotion of the autonomy of public electronic media, the report notes.

The law should be changed as soon as possible, the said associations note in the report, adding that most worrying is an increase in nationalist and revisionist discourse in the public sphere that is being used to intimidate critical media.

In that context, they single out leading political figures, including former HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko, who openly stated their wish to rid the country of 'the leftist media'.

The report by international journalists' associations was compiled after a three-day visit of their representatives to Croatia. 

The delegation was led by representatives of the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO).

Its members held more than 20 meetings with journalists, editors, government officials, including President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, as well as representatives of journalists' associations and civil society organisations.

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