With this kind of mass closure of opposition media, the current government finalizes the cycle launched five years ago to curb the media space in Macedonia
Three opposition newspapers in Macedonia recently closed due to direct pressure from the country’s current government. Due to close for the same reason is an opposition television station. The future of another daily newspaper is also uncertain.
With this kind of mass closure of opposition media, the current government finalizes the cycle launched five years ago to curb the media space in Macedonia. After this only a handful of independent media remain: All the rest are under the control of the government, which directly funds them from the state budget by paid ads for its own promotion.
The dark pages of journalism history
The closing of the media will forever list the current government in the dark pages of journalism history. Such a rigorous step could be applied only in a regime submerged in dictatorship, a regime using the apparatus of coercion, grossly violating human rights and freedoms, a regime which violates the laws and norms to punish prospective opponents.
A critical attitude towards the regime in power is the only reason why the newspapers Vreme, Spic, Macedonian and Koha e re (an Albanian daily) were shut down and withdrawn from circulation this month. The same attitude has led the independent A1 Television, which has already reduced broadcast program, to the brink of closure.
The owner of these four media is suspected of tax evasion. He has been detained since December of 2010, and the trial was started in this past couple of weeks. Without a formal verdict, and the allegations of tax evasion still not proven, the media in his ownership have been officially closed down and extinguished.
Close to its end is Utrinski Vesnik an independent daily, who similarly to these four media, is critical towards the government. This newspaper is a part of the German company WAZ in Macedonia.
The company which owns three newspapers in the country, due to indirect pressure on its local management, changed its independent editorial policy and became close to the current government. This is why Utrinski Vesnik is under a threat of closure, even though officially it is for financial reasons.
A frontal attack aimed at critical media
The current government had no reaction to the crumple of the media in the country, which clearly shows that it is behind this frontal attack aimed at the critical media. With this, the regime in power quite openly, intentionally or not, confirms the allegations of totalitarianism, dictatorship and fascism, which were highlighted by the opposition media, the same media that are now eliminated or are about to be removed from the media scene. Only such regimes can brutally sanction opponents, in turn "nurturing" forms of evil and terror.
With the vicious closure of the media, the government openly takes on revenge aimed at those who have the courage to think differently. Also at the same time the government shows hysterical fear from democracy, from freedom of thinking and it oppresses the right to be different. As it turns out, these elements would threaten the illusion that the government is immaculate, always right and that it has mass support, although this was not confirmed at the recent parliamentary elections. This is in fact the real motive behind the revenge.
A ban on critical thinking
With the shutdown of the opposition media there is a ban on critical thinking. The media that are controlled by the government are harnessed in creating a virtual reality in Macedonia. The government, with the mass closing of media, has deprived its citizens of the Constitutional and international norms which guarantee the rights to freedom of speech and right to information as fundamental determinants of the level of democracy in a society.
The European Commission and OSCE reacted quickly and sharply to the abolition of democracy in Macedonia. There was no official response from the current government in Macedonia and none was to be expected. The government is focused only on staying in power as long as possible, and knows that it is only achievable through dictatorship, promoting a national-patriotic and nationalistic model and creating divisions in the society. The implementation of this model is promoted through the harnessed media which is now under its control.
This article is published on July 7 on one of the blogs of Mr. David Brewer, media strategy expert and consultant (more at: http://mediahelpingmedia.org/)