Dozens gathered in Prishtina on Wednesday for World Freedom of the Press Day under the slogan “Speak, don’t be afraid!”
The protest, organized by the Association of Journalists of Kosovo and the Press Council of Kosovo, brought together journalists, civil society representatives, and citizens opposing limits on media, sources said.
“Stop fake news” and “Stop censorship,” as well as signs demanding labor rights, including “We want contracts” and “Pay my labor” were signs carried by the demonstrators referring to journalistic ethics and freedoms.
“Speak, don’t be afraid’ is the motto of this action, and through it we call on all Kosovo journalists to speak independently from pressure, blackmail, or even attacks from various interest groups,” said Shkelqim Hysenaj, the head of the Association of Journalists of Kosovo.
Threats against journalists in Kosovo have endangered the media landscape. Recent alleged threats against a documentary journalist, a newspaper editor, and a playwright raised alarm amongst civil society and media organizations about freedom of information and freedom of expression.
Kosovo is not the only Balkan country to suffer from media corruption and lack of freedom. Recently in April, Reporters without Borders’ said that “Corruption and collusion between media, politicians, and oligarchs is widespread in Bulgaria. The most notorious embodiment of this aberrant state of affairs is Delyan Peevski (an MP from the DPS), a former head of Bulgaria’s main intelligence agency and owner of the New Bulgarian Media Group.”
According to the report, the Peevski group “has six newspapers and controls nearly 80% of print media distribution.” It added that “Threats and attacks against journalists have intensified in recent months. It can prove dangerous to be a journalist in Bulgaria.”
In the wider Balkan region, the annual Reporters without Borders ranking on the Freedom of Speech Index says that Romania is ranked highest (44), followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina (62), Croatia (69), Greece (74), Albania (75), Serbia (76), Kosovo (78), Montenegro (103), Macedonia (109).