Concern for press in Serbia and Croatia
Members of the European parliament from six countries sent telegrams on January 9 to the presidents of Serbia and of Croatia expressing concern over measures to stifle press freedom in both those countries.
The telegram to President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia expressed concern over the fate of the daily newspaper Borba, whose staff have been resisting a government takeover on December 23, when the government imposed its own minister of information as the newspaper's new editor. The MEPs stressed that restoring Borba's independence "must be considered as a major yardstick for defining our position on our relations to Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia".
A similar telegram to President Franjo Tudjman of Croatia focused on the case of the satirical weekly Feral Tribune, which is being harassed out of existence by imposition of a heavy state tax for "pornography" (not imposed on any other newspaper), combined with a cascade of libel suits brought by politicians who object to the paper's critical coverage.
The MEPs agreed to intensify efforts to put press freedom high on the European Union's list of priorities in regard to relations with Croatia, Serbia and other countries in the region.