Chatzimarkakis : “I defended press freedom”
Brussels, 21st of September 2011. Concerning yesterday’s incident at the ALDE seminary on Press Freedom in the Western Balkans (“Silencing the press: Press and media freedom in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”), Jorgo Chatzimarkakis states:
“I admit that my reaction yesterday was unusual. But I had to deal with an unusual situation when I had to defend freedom of speech against a violent assault.
Yesterday’s seminar was an open forum for journalists that are worried about the level of press freedom in Skopje. Before the conference even started there was a violent row from a group of people claiming to be journalists.
However, they didn’t act like journalists. Instead of engaging in a constructive dialogue, they shouted and threatened. The Chairman repeatedly kindly asked them to allow the discussion to begin. He assured them that later they could take the floor. They refused to accept this. For the sake of allowing victims of restricted press freedom to speak about their experience, those who prevented them had to leave.
Democratic institutions have rules. One rule is that discussions have to be based on mutual respect. Whoever violates this, has to face consequences. Any MEP that does not abide by the rules has to leave the plenary.
We want a constructive dialogue with the civil society and all the institutional stakeholders concerned. I am very worried about this incident. I really hope that this is not going to endanger the accession process. Various EU accession reports point out that Skopje is in principle on a good path.”
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