Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Croatia's Maja Sever Elected President of the European Federation of Journalists

ZAGREB, 14 June 2022 - The head of the Croatian Journalists Union, Maja Sever, has been elected President of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) at the organisation's general meeting that is taking place in Izmir, Turkey on 13 and 14 June, the Croatian Journalists Association announced on Tuesday.

Sever received 137 votes, while the other candidate for this position, Mariusz Pilis of Poland, gained 7 votes.

Sever is the first woman to serve as EFJ President in the organisation's history. She thanked the delegates for their nearly unanimous support.

"This election is a great honour to me and a chance for us to continue our struggle for strong and independent professional journalism," Sever said after her election.

She said her presidency would focus on the safety of journalists, improvement of worker and professional rights and the status of freelance journalists, and the fight against SLAPP lawsuits. She also highlighted the importance of journalist associations and unions fighting for better strategic and legislative frameworks at the national and EU levels.

The EFJ is the largest organisation of journalists in Europe, representing over 320,000 journalists in 73 journalists' organisations across 45 countries.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

EFJ Annual Meeting 2021: Journalists' Issues to be Discussed in Zagreb

October 6, 2021 - The EFJ Annual Meeting 2021 comes to Zagreb to discuss European, local and global media freedom, as well as journalists' safety. Established on December 18, 1910, The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) is one of the oldest professional associations in modern Croatia.

As expected, it is older than the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) that was established in 1994, but then again, as expected, the EFJ (being multinational) holds a much stronger position when addressing the typical troubles journalists face.

The two associations collaborate really well, as is evident in EFJ's support to HND in condemning Croatian PM Andrej Plenković who is also the president of the right-centre Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). As TCN informed in June, Plenković attacked the press, accusing them of being paid to vilify and smear HDZ candidates.

After the event being postponed in May 2020, both HND and the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists (SNH) will host the EFJ annual meeting in Zagreb on October 8-9. This year's edition of the meeting will go with a theme titled ''Better Protecting Journalists''.

''The topics include enhancing the protection of journalists across Europe, pressures on media in the region, the prosecution of journalists and journalist associations in Belarus, and rescuing journalists from Afghanistan. The two-day assembly will be held at the Journalists' Home and gather over one hundred respected journalists, the president of the journalists' organisation and syndicates from all over Europe, as well as distinguished guests,'' says HND on its website.

The open part of the assembly will have two panels.

The first one, entitled ''Pressures on journalists and media in the region'' is where the Journalist Security Index will be presented. The Index has four categories: the legal and administrative frame and context of journalistic work, attack preventions, investigations and legal actions taken against journalists and procedures in case of an attack on a journalist.

It will be interesting to see the newest results because, as TCN wrote earlier, while media liberties deteriorate in the rest of the world, Croatia actually saw quite some progress.

The second open panel is a round table entitled ''Journalism in the time of polarisation''.

''The opening remarks to the representatives of the press association will be given by Croatian President Zoran Milanović, Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek (who will also do so on behalf of Croatian PM Andrej Plenković), and IFJ President Mogens Blicher. SNH President Maja Sever, HND President Hrvoje Zovko and President of the Belarus Journalists' Association Andrei Bastunets, will all also be present,'' announced HND.

When it comes to Croatia, as TCN wrote, the main issue in this regard is currently lawsuits, particularly SLAPP lawsuits, which are ''strategic'' lawsuits (meaning they're unfounded or exaggerated) and aimed at intimidating and silencing those who ask questions of public interest.

Read about Croatian politics and history since 1990 on our TC guide.

For more about the Croatian Journalists' Association, follow TCN's dedicated page

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) Joins in Condemning PM Plenković's Statements

ZAGREB, 1 June, 2021 - The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has joined the Croatian Journalists Association (HND) and the Croatian Journalists Union (SNH) in condemning Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's verbal attacks on media and reporters after the local runoff election on 30 May.

The HND said on its website that EFJ Secretary-General Ricardo Gutiérrez described as "totally unacceptable that journalists are being attacked by both the Prime Minister and, just recently, the President of Croatia."

"Blaming journalists in this way is an attempt to undermine their credibility in order to limit their role as a counterweight. To insult or threaten journalists is to insult and threaten citizens, and to undermine the right of citizens to access free, independent information," the HND quoted Gutiérrez as saying.

The EFJ said on its website that shortly after the second round of local elections in Croatia, Plenković once again attacked the media, accusing them of "being paid to vilify a political camp" and accusing Dražen Lalić, an analyst and professor at the Zagreb Faculty of Political Science, of being paid by broadcasters to smear HDZ candidates, targeting also HND president Hrvoje Zovko, who strongly condemned his attack on the media.

The EFJ carried a statement issued on Monday by the HND and SNH in which the two organisations deplored "the open threats PM Plenkovic has made against all our colleagues and media which do not follow his and the HDZ's ideology.

"To name all those who critically speak about candidates ahead of elections and to mark as targets 'those who calumniate people for money' is not the kind of discourse that should be used by politicians, let alone prime ministers of civilised and democratic EU countries," the two organisations said in the statement carried by the EFJ.

The EFJ also quoted the HND and SNH as saying that such attacks only show Plenković and his HDZ party's ambition "to completely control the public sphere and determine the limits of media freedoms in Croatia".

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.