First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko has announced on his Facebook page that the government will introduce a transparent co-financing of the media, refuting in the strongest terms criticism and insinuations by Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) president Sasa Lekovic to replace Culture Minister Zlatan Hasenbegovic.
"I entirely refute criticism as well as insinuations by Croatian Journalists' Association president Sasa Lekovic who has called on me to replace Culture Minister Zlatan Hasenbegovic over the announced changes in the co-financing of associations and the media," Karamarko posted on Facebook on Friday evening.
"Nobody in the Croatian government or the Culture Ministry will make assessments in a package deal about which association or which media house should receive budgetary support. This government will end such practice," Karamarko said adding that "decisions about it will be made based on the work of the media so far and the way the media have used the financial support in the past."
In his Facebook post, Karamarko also suggested to Culture Minister Hasanbegovic to, while deciding about the allocation of the funds, take into account the contribution a certain association or a media house was making towards the democratisation of the society and promotion of free speech."
He underscored that he expected the HND and its president Lekovic to also advocate those criteria or explain what is wrong with those criteria.
Earlier on Friday, Minister Hasenbegovic dissolved the Non-Profit Media Commission in line with his powers.
His ministry forwarded a press release to Hina, citing the relevant regulations that empower the Culture Minister to appoint and dissolve commissions which have been set up in accordance with the said regulations.
However, the minister's decision has angered some of the members of the seven-member council, with one of them claiming that Hasanbegovic made the decision under the influence of some activists of the "In the Name of the Family" association.
In addition, the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND), the Croatian PEN centre and the NGO Platform 112, on Friday morning criticised the new minister for his plan to redistribute funds intended for non-profit media and accused him of incompetence, reiterating their appeal to the government to relieve Hasanbegovic of duty.
The funds earmarked for non-profit media will be given to those whom Hasanbegovic finds to be good, said HND leader Sasa Lekovic.