The Government session has been cancelled because, as we were told, some unexpected obligations of the Prime Minister Mr. Tihomir Orešković. Instead, there was telephone session with agenda of just two items: motion regarding the Ministry of Culture and the Government amendment to Final Proposal of Law on changes and annexes to Law on social care.
Why do they need 6 million – they have 3?
The Government in its Report states it supports all decisions made by Minister Hasanbegović, including the one about dismissal of the Committee for non-profit media. The Government does not find disputable that decision about support to these media has been cut down for 50% - from 6 to 3 million.
“By decision of the Minister of culture financing of non-profit media has not been stopped. Programs of non-profit media are co-financed through Pluralism and media diversity Fund according to Article 64 Law on Electronic Media, and that Fund belongs to Electronic media Agency”, is said in the Report.
The Government claims that Ministry of Culture has co-financed electronic publications already financed through the Agency Fund and that is, as they see it, overlapping of competencies.
The Government does not find anything to be odd in suggestion to dismiss the Electronic Media Council not in postponing use of EU funds for co-financing media programs that might have brought 30 million kunas (4,000.000 euros) to media this year.
“Republic of Croatia did not give up those sources of financing mentioned programs, but decided to use it according criteria when constrains permit. As Development of community media Program is rather complicated, more complex than other programs arranged by the Ministry, the application for that program is planned for 2017. was said in the Report.
Hasanbegović as a victim
The Government defended the Minister regarding his shameful reaction to attack on journalist Ante Tomić: “In case of physical attack on Ante Tomić, not in his capacity as journalist, as it was determined later, there was alleged statement of the Minister Zlatko Hasanbegović, Ph. D. published. That statement he never stated personally, but it defined attitude of dubious value published in all media without being checked”.
“Ministry of Culture finds freedom of the press of the utmost importance; journalists should be free to practice their profession without any obstacles according to their ethics. Minister of Culture has personally been exposed to hate speech in Ante Tomić’s articles, but neither other journalists nor their professional associations did condemn it”, was said in the Report.
As for Interpellation claim for the Minister to give clear statement about the Ustasha regime and its actions the Government pointed out that Minister Hasanbegović had condemned that regime many times in his public speeches as well as all crimes committed by that regime. The Government shares opinions of its member.
“The Minister of Culture has shown in three months of his mandate by many meetings with numerous representatives of religious communities and national minorities and by his announced development of their cultural projects that he has but respect for social, national and religious differences” says the Report.
Special program of freedom of expression protection is not necessary
Finally, the Government finds that statements in the Interpellation are not founded as legal regulations guarantee freedom of expression are fully implemented and that they make highest standard of freedom and undisturbed professional work of journalists.
“The Government protects and promotes pluralism and diversity of media and it will continue to do so following the highest standards adopted in the EU, including use of EU Funds. The Government also finds that there is no need to adopt National Program of protection and Promotion of freedom of expression and development of democratic media space and with related budget because in the Republic of Croatia all standards of media freedom and freedom of expression are respected”, says the Report.
You can read the Report here.
The Interpellation was submitted by HNS, SDP and the Croatian Labor Party delegates because of “distortion of the Ministry of Culture, the Government and state in general reputation, because of threatening freedom of expression and preventing democratic development of media landscape.”
The delegates requested for the Minister of Culture to come clear in writing about his understanding of freedom of expression and media freedom, about dismissal of the Electronic Media Council (VEM), about his decision to refuse financial support to non-profit media and about his opinion on the Ustasha regime, its goals and acts.
Source: The Republic of Croatia Government