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Croatia15 December 2006

Two state TV journalists allowed to return to work

Journalists Danko Druzijanic and Goran Rotim were allowed to return to work yesterday. The state television’s council of ethics decided at a meeting on 12 December that they did not violate the code of conduct and that the management exceeded its authority by suspending them for broadcasting an old video recording of a comment made by Stipe Mesic before he was president.


Two state TV journalists suspended for broadcasting president’s comment on Croatia’s fascist past

Reporters Without Borders today condemned a decision by the Croatian state radio and TV broadcaster HRT to suspend two of its journalists, Danko Druzijanic and Goran Rotim, for broadcasting comments by President Stipe Mesic in which he spoke approvingly of Croatia’s fascist past during the Second World War.

HRT director general Mirko Galic suspended them for “lack of professionalism.” Galic, who is currently a candidate for the post of ambassador to France, apparently felt they should be punished for putting the president in a difficult situation. Galic denies that this is case.

“We view the suspension of these two journalists as disproportionate,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We are astonished to see that the national television chief is prepared to use self-censorship in order to please the president. The independence of the media, including the public media, is especially important in the run-up to next November’s parliamentary elections.”

Mesic’s comments, broadcast on 9 December during a news programme, were made during a visit to Australia in the early 1990s when he addressed a group of Croatian emigres as a senior representative of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union. “We were twice victorious in the Second World War and we have no excuses to make (...) The first time when we won on 10 April 1941 [date of the proclamation of an independent fascist state]. And then at the end of the war, when were again on the side of the victors.”

The broadcast of the comments set off an outcry, to which Mesic has reacted by insisting on the particular context in which they were made and all the evidence of his anti-fascist positions. The president is known as the most outspoken critic of the pro-Nazi regime. He has also condemned the two journalists’ suspension.

In a joint statement, Druzijanic and Rotim said they were shocked by their suspension: “We thought we had done our work well. All the information was gathered in accordance with journalistic standards.”

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