DPS adamant in curbing independence of RTCG even at the cost of activation of the balance clause

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Reaction of Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) on our yesterday’s statement indicates that DPS is in a severe discrepancy not only with critically oriented non-governmental organizations that argumentatively point out deviations of the system and advocate for defence of public interest, but also with the European Union, USA and many other actors in the country and abroad.

Montenegro needs independent public service, not a copy of primitive media formats which have obviously become depleted since they lost real influence on Montenegrin citizens. Hence, panic reaction of creators of illegal actions to at any costs return control of DPS over public service is not surprising.  CCE, IA, CDNGO and CEMI are not the only ones loud in defence of RTCG, which after many years starts to transform into genuine public broadcasting service open for pluralism of opinion. Concern was expressed in more occasions also by representatives of US administration, but also the EU, and which stressed this issue even in the latest EC Non-paper on current state in chapters 23 and 24 in Montenegro, and which was also emphasized to Prime Minister Dusko Markovic in the accompanying letter of commissioner Johannes Hahn, into which signatories of this statement had insight, as well as in recent discussions with MEPs.

Determination to abolish independency of the public broadcaster contrary to the messages from EU and US, which clearly conveys also decennial suddenly awoken Director General of Directorate for Media Zeljko Rutovic with the request for management of RTCG to resign represents a clear message that this Government invokes balance clause from EU, i.e. it is prepared to suspend negotiations in order to regain party control over public broadcasting service RTCG. This directly violates state interests of Montenegro, and proves also that there are strong structures within DPS which, any time when doors of entry in the EU open up broader for us, do anything in their power to at least slow down the accession process if they already cannot terminate it for the purpose of their power monopolies. RTCG managed to stop with the practice of a service of party propaganda and it is indisputable that it is public interest to do anything in our power for RTCG not to return to that ‘pink’ format, but to continue with building capacities for objective and professional reporting.

When it comes to defence of character and work of Radojka Rutovic we have never defended her on principle level as there was no base for that. However, we have pointed out in principle the conflict of interest of Radojka Rutovic, and when arguments for defence have ran out even the law was changed in order to suit her. We have pointed out also to the ‘black lists’ of interlocutors that have marked her management of RTCG.

The latest attack of DPS represents continuity of a brutal and perennial campaign that this party leads against critically oriented non-governmental organizations and their leaders both via media, controlled thanks to financial arrangement of their owners with the state, and by abuse of state institutions. The only novelty is that DPS now openly and directly announces even more severe clashes with all of those who are prepared to point out abuses of governing structures, and we believe that this will not be without consequences.

Ana Novakovic, Executive Director, Centre for Development of Non-Governmental Organizations (CDNGO)

Daliborka Uljarevic, Executive Director, Centre for Civic Education (CCE)

Stevo Muk, President of MB, Institute alternative (IA)

Zlatko Vujovic, President of MB, Centre for Monitoring and Research (CEMI)

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