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Ljiljana Smajlovic

Ljiljana Smajlovic is editor-in-chief of the Serbian daily newspaper Politika in Belgrade, one of the oldest newspapers in the Balkans. She is the first woman in the century-long history of this newspaper to hold that job. For her work she was honoured with the Dimitrije Davidovic Award for outstanding editing. Since 2009, she is also President of the Journalists’ Association of Serbia. She has been a foreign correspondent for several newspapers, reporting from Brussels and the United States.

 

In Support for Leipzig’s European Centre for Press and Media Freedom: Contrary to what most of our Western European colleagues seem to believe, freedom of the press in the south-east region of Europe is not only under attack from “national patriotism” or right-of-center ideologies and political parties. Present-day Serbia, the most recent candidate for EU membership, is a case in point. The country is run by an assortment of political parties that all pay lip service to European civic values, but their leaders routinely fail to live up to the most basic European standards of behaviour when freedom of expression is at stake. Even more disturbingly, European bureaucrats do little more than slap the ruling coalition on its wrist for egregious infractions of press freedoms, such as media laws designed to intimidate the press or political pressures on editorial policy. The local press in Serbia is on its deathbed, while municipal financing comes with the proviso that journalists do not publish critical stories. Most international organizations monitoring press freedom have been demoting Serbia on their lists for three years in a row, yet this barely seems to register with Brussels, where the European Commission routinely gives the country passing marks. We need institutions that will heed the warnings of press professionals on the ground, and that Brussels will be forced to listen to. The path to EU integration is littered with corpses of good intentions and misreading of local situations.

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