Serbia's President Aleksandar Vučić was upset for originally not being invited for the talks with the delegation of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) during its visit to Belgrade. Upon intervention from his cabinet, the meeting was arranged: Vučić saw it as an opportunity to personally explain the state of media and freedom of expression in the country and particularly to present himself as a victim of national media. However, according to what the delegation stated, EFJ had not been especially impressed by claims about media threats to the Chief of State.
Media organizations and associations in Serbia, including the NGO sector, believe that concerning media freedom and freedom of speech the only aim of public authorities is to show to Brussels and Washington that things are being promptly correcting in the country. According to media organizations, the government use all available means to discredit or financially destroy media that are professional in reporting and commenting relevant events for the country.
According to Beta, Serbian media as well as Serbian citizens are expected to become a kind of megaphone which amplifies and repeats the messages of the leader. The political élite is striving to expel the few media that critically report against it from public communication, and a new discipline is being developed in the form of direct disruption of communication of oppositional representatives.
Dissatisfied with the way of drafting the new Media Strategy, whose text was supposed to be completed and put up for public debate, representatives of journalist and media associations have withdrawn from the working group of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia. Leading journalist associations are calling for the formation of a new working group and for including experts and the civil society in it.
Media and journalist associations have assessed that the statement of Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, who stated that there was no objective journalism in Serbia, was unfounded, cynical and frivolous, and called for a dialogue about unbiased journalism. The deterioration of the media landscape in Serbia is garnering increased attention abroad and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) decided to send an international mission to Serbia to help to improve freedom of expression and media freedoms.
Media outlets that are not under the direct influence of the government and numerous portals and websites of non-governmental organizations have blackened their websites for an hour to draw the public’s attention to the fact that media freedom in Serbia is in its death throes.
Hate speech and threats are a daily occurrence in Serbia, which moved from the political scene to the media scene, particularly against the media outlets which practice investigative journalism and point toward irregularities in enforcement of regulation and the people behind it, who go unpunished.
Representatives of Journalists and of media association assessed on 2 February that the case law in disputes with media is unequal, the procedures are automatized and unified and that judges are not committed on cases regarding media.