Thursday, April 07, 2005

Belgrade journalist blames tabloids for deterioration in relations with Kosovo

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Text of report by independent internet news agency KosovaLive

Belgrade, 5 April: A member of the Press Council at the Belgrade Media Centre, Gordana Susa, has said that Belgrade tabloids were contributing to the deterioration of relations with Kosova [Kosovo] and the Kosova Albanians.

Susa told KosovaLive that in the past few months, discrimination on ethnic, religious and racial grounds has been increasingly present in the tabloid press, which is very widely read.

"Every time something happens in Kosova that draws Belgrade's attention, and there have been many such events during March, the tabloids start publishing sensationalist stories, unverified reports and stereotypes about the Kosova Albanians and the international community," Susa said.

She mentioned several examples of negative reporting, such as about Ramush Haradinaj's departure to the Hague, the anniversary of the 17 March events, the attack on the Vucic couple in the village of Cerkolez [Crkolez] in Istog [Istok] municipality, etc.

Tabloids such as Kurir and Srpski Nacional have been speculating that "a villa is being prepared for Haradinaj in one of the European countries", that former UCK [Kosovo Liberation Army] members will organize "another 17 March" and that Albanians "have cut Nedeljko's (Vucic) ear".

At the end of UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] chief Soeren Jessen-Petersen's visit to Belgrade, these newspapers reported a statement by a senior Serbian Radical Party [SRS] official, who said that "Jessen-Petersen protects Albanian terrorists" and that he "has received not less than 100,000 euros".

Srpski Nacional has also reported that "Kosova will become independent for 20 million dollars" and that the real target of the recent attack against [President] Rugova was the EU common and foreign security policy high representative, Javier Solana.

"If such speculation is launched at a time when the Belgrade authorities are trying to defuse the situation in order to start negotiations with Prishtina, then the radicalization of relations amounts to no less than calls for a new mini war and hatred against the Albanians," Susa said.

The Press Council is an independent professional body that has been set up by the Media Centre of the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia. The Council consists of journalists from respected independent media, who analyse reports in the Belgrade press on a monthly basis and identify violations of the journalistic code of ethics.

Source: KosovaLive web site, Pristina, in Albanian 5 Apr 05

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