European Federation of Journalists

Croatia: EFJ condemns far-right calls for an end to funding for Novosti weekly


The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined its Croatian affiliates, the Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA) and the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists (TUCJ), in condemning the call by the far-right political party Homeland Movement to cut public funding for media outlet Novosti, which is published by the Serbian National Council, SNV, an organisation representing the Serb minority in Croatia.

On 8 May 2024, at a press conference in Šibenik, the leader of the far-right Homeland Movement, Ivan Penava, declared that his party would only support a new government coalition led by the conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) if it cuts off funding for the weekly Novosti. In their views, the only print media for the Serb minority “represents an agenda to attack the foundation of the state, to present political attitudes under the guise of protecting minorities.”

Financed by the public body “Council for National Minorities as part of the Program for Cultural Autonomy of Minorities” and published by the Serbian National Council, Novosti is one of the most respected publications in the country, well-known for its investigative reports.

“The very idea of imposing the abolition of one media outlet as a condition for concluding a coalition agreement is scandalous and unacceptable,” said CJA President Hrvoje Zovko.”The financing of Novosti, as well as a number of newspapers and magazines of national minorities in Croatia, is prescribed by the Constitutional Law on the Rights of National Minorities. Encroachment on Novosti is therefore an encroachment on the constitutionally guaranteed rights of a minority community.”

“Blackmail over funding for Novosti is an attack on media pluralism and minority rights,” stated EFJ President Maja Sever. “If this agreement is ratified by the coalition government, it would mean that the Croatian government would not hesitate to seal the government pact on a violation of the rule of law and the Constitution. This is extremely serious.”

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.