The Croatian Journalists Association's (HND) executive board on Croatian Television (HTV) warned on Tuesday about the "unacceptable level" of statements by First Deputy Prime Minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) president Tomislav Karamarko, who recently repeatedly accused the media of being in the service of one political camp, particularly attacking Croatian Radio and Television (HRT).
Responding to leading politicians' public attacks on HRT, the board said in a press release that politicians were entitled to criticise the work of the media and the public broadcaster but that their office obliged them to a polite level of public communication which they, as responsible politicians, should back up with facts.
The HND's HTV branch said that Karamarko was making accusations that "programmes on HTV, which is in the service of one party, lie, demonise the HDZ, make them seem crazy because they are patriots and exaggerate everything they (the HDZ) say," and that "HTV is working on the destruction of the political cooperation" between the Bridge party and the HDZ.
The press release quoted HDZ secretary-general Milijan Brkic as saying that HRT director Goran Radman "allowed other countries' services to instruct and govern part of the employees and edit programmes so as to foment political spins, social division and to smear our country."
The HND branch said that when politicians went public with such serious accusations, they should submit evidence and that "if they have information which threatens not only HRT's work but national security too, they have the duty to report it to the authorised institutions."
The HND said that opposition leader Zoran Milanovic was not defusing "the public hysteria" by claiming that he could say that HRT was in the service of the HDZ.
The branch said that HRT was neither a partisan nor a state service but a public one and that it was supervised by its Supervisory Board and Programmes Council as well as relevant parliamentary bodies. It added that the recent rhetoric and statements full of blanket assessments indicated that politics wanted to "assume all those roles."
The branch said that all politicians should realise that, in an ideologically deeply divided country, they had the responsibility to contribute to civilised discussions on all important political and social topics. Instead, their statements are not conducive to the raising of standards and further professionalisation of HRT but create "an atmosphere of purges and fear," which is a step away from censorship and self-censorship.
The branch said that the ruling majority could effect change on HRT in parliamentary procedure through legitimate and legal means.