Mysterious Meeting of Ambassadors: Croatia Under Close Supervision?

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Foreign ambassadors worried about media freedom in Croatia?

Ambassadors of the EU member states and the United States accredited in Zagreb gathered on Thursday for a meeting about media freedom in Croatia. Although ambassadors confirmed their participation in this meeting through social networks, not much about their discussion is known. The participants agreed that the content of the conversation would not be made public, but given their harmonized posts on Twitter, it is clear that they wanted those in power in Croatia to know that the country was under an increased supervision of the international community due to the situation in the media, reports on April 16, 2016.

According to sources, participants in the meeting pointed out the situation at the Croatian Radio Television and the Council for Electronic Media. The discussion was reportedly an unofficial, “internal exchange” of information and opinions about the current situation in Croatian media. This is the reason why this time the media will not get further information about the meeting of the ambassadors who in their posts nevertheless made it clear that they cared deeply about media freedom in Croatia and that the situation was being closely monitored. Information about the meeting has been published by ambassadors of the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Norway.

Thursday’s meeting was reportedly just one in a series of discussion on the subject that will take place in the future, and it can be expected that individual embassies will be further involved in the issue of media freedom in Croatia. During the process of accession to the European Union, Croatia had to reach certain democratic standards, which included changes to the Law on the Croatian Radio Television and the Law on Electronic Media, as well as the Criminal Code in the area of ​​freedom of expression, freedom of speech and public expression of opinion, and sanctioning of public incitement to violence and hatred.

“We are monitoring what is going on. We are very interested in the state of media freedom in Croatia, particularly in the light of events in the media in some other EU member states”, said a source.

The news about the meeting of foreign ambassadors on the situation in the Croatian media came via a Twitter post by Austrian Ambassador Andreas Wiedenhoff, who was the host of Thursday’s meeting. Wiedenhoff on Thursday early afternoon publicly announced that he had “a very interesting meeting with colleagues and friends about media freedom”, with a significant addition: “A key priority in our foreign policy.”

Asked by reporters about the details and the participants of the meeting, as well as to explain why he mentioned in this context that media freedom was a priority of Austrian foreign policy, Wiedenhoff said that Austria had a long tradition of paying special attention to media freedom worldwide. Austria does that in the context of the United Nations (including the Human Rights Council), but also in other forums, such as the European Union, particularly in the field of common foreign and security policy of the EU. Finally, on the issue of media freedom Austria is also engaged in bilateral relations, concluded Wiedenhoff, not revealing anything about the content and the participants of the meeting.

Information that the Austrian ambassador was the host of the meeting was revealed by American Ambassador Julieta Valls Noyes, who thanked Wiedenhoff in her tweet.


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