European Federation of Journalists

Croatia: Prime Minister Plenković attacked media after local elections


The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined its affiliate in Croatia, the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND), in condemning the latest verbal attacks and accusations by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković towards media and journalists after the local elections on 30 May.

Shortly after the second round of local elections in Croatia last Sunday, the Prime Minister once again attacked the media, accusing them of “being paid to vilify a political camp” and of deliberately and repeatedly misnaming the HDZ’s candidate for Zagreb mayor, Davor Filipović, in debates in the first election round. Plenković also accused the media of being “mercenaries who disgust one’s political option”.

When asked by N1 TV journalist Elvir Mešanović why he never responded to their invitations for an interview, Plenković replied that “(N1) should write a poster declaring what ideological television they are”. He also said that Drazen Lalic, a professor at the Zagreb Faculty of Political Science, was paid by broadcasters to smear HDZ candidates and targeted HND President Hrvoje Zovko, who strongly condemned Plenković’s attack on the media.

In a joint statement, the SNH and the HND responded to Plenković’s attacks and interference in the editorial policy of the national commercial televisions RTL, Nova TV and N1:

“What we consider unacceptable… are 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 dishonour for money” is not a discourse used by politicians, let alone prime ministers of civilised and democratic EU countries,” the HND and SNH said.

The two journalists’ organisations also stated that such attacks only showed the ambitions of the Prime Minister and the HDZ “to completely control the public sphere and determine the limits of media freedom in Croatia”.

The EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez said: “It is 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.”

This statement was produced by EFJ as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.