We’ve covered the dismal state of the Macedonian media recently, but the issue keeps popping up. An ugly scene took place in a Brussels hearing room last week.

The setting was a hearing called Silencing the Press: Press and Media Freedom in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, hosted by some Liberal Democratic members of the European parliament. Scheduled speakers included two former journalists from A1 Television, closed down last year over charges of tax evasion by its owner, Velija Ramkovski; a reporter (and sometime TOL correspondent) for the Utrinski Vesnik newspaper, owned by the German media group WAZ; an expert on human rights law who is also a former judge on the Macedonian Supreme Court; and an actor and human rights activist.

The logo on the video above is that of Sitel TV, which is owned by the son of a member of parliament in Macedonia’s ruling coalition.

According to the three journalists thrown out, they were protesting the bias of the hearing, which gave a platform to people who used to work for A1, which had become critical of the government before it was shut down. According to an account in Balkan Insight, they began shouting their protests before the speakers had concluded. They were asked to wait and refused. One of them reportedly called the members of the panel traitors.

Anyway, something predictable has happened in its wake. According to Balkan Insight some are convinced that the dust-up was orchestrated in Skopje.

Others see the hand of Greece, or a Greece-friendly EU or just traitors behind the hearing.

For the record, here is a list of some organizations that have expressed concern about the plurality and independence of Macedonian media in the past year:

The European Commission
Amnesty International
The South East Europe Media Organization
Freedom House
Reporters Without Borders
The Media Development Center

Barbara Frye

Barbara Frye is Transitions Online’s managing editor. Email: barbara.frye@tol.org

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