PM seeks apology from OSCE over censorship claim

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić has demanded an apology from OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović.

Source: B92
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This came after Mijatović's allegations of censorship of the media in Serbia.

In his letter, the prime minister said he believed the OSCE official was "deceived" and added he "did not even want to think that there was some other political intent hiding behind a series of untruths that she presented against Serbia."

Vučić also stated that "the dirtiest campaign" was being conducted against him both in the country and abroad - but that he hoped he would see either an apology from the OSCE, or evidence for the alleged violations of human rights in Serbia.

"Being very concerned about the heavy words that you had at the expense of the country whose government I lead, I was forced to check all the claims from your statement," the prime minister wrote in the letter dated June 2. He added that it was "unusual for a prime minister of a country to respond formally, in writing, to a single written statement. "

Vučić added that he asked the OSCE for information about any evidence that would support the claim that the government was involved in disabling the websites "Druga strana" and "Teleprompter," or that it removed a blog from the website of the Blic daily. However, he noted that he had not received such evidence.

"Of course, no evidence was offered to me," said Vučić.

The prime minister "wants to believe that this information (about censorship) was collected in a manner most lacking in seriousness from one of the websites which are conducting their habitually dirty campaign against their government."

"I will not believe you did this because false information was given to you by representatives of the so-called independent institutions in Serbia, without you even checking it," Vučić wrote in his letter to the OSCE official, and added: "Also, I do not believe you did this because there is a need to discipline Serbian leaders and stifle any idea of ​​a free and sovereign reaction of the state of Serbia in its foreign policy activities."

He then asked Mijatović why she failed to ask the owner and editors of Blic whether the government had removed any content from their website, and added that those other websites were "never heard of" previously either by himself or by the OSCE official, and that "nobody is Serbia was interested in them."

Vučić said that he expected "an ordinary apology from the OSCE, and nothing more."

"Whether we receive it or not, I wish to inform you that I will be fighting in every place against the lies that you presented, I will fight for freedom and the right to political choice, as core European values, at the cost of you continuing the dirtiest campaign against me, conducted both in Serbia and abroad. The ferocity and power of a campaign of lies, no matter how many times it may be repeated, cannot change one pure and clear thing, and that is that Serbia is a free and democratic country," the prime minister said in his letter.

Tanjug reported last week that OSCE's Dunja Mijatović had expressed her concern regarding censorship of websites in Serbia.

Mijatović called on the country's authorities to foster a free debate on issues of public interest.

According to her statement, "this censorship trend took on a worrying aspect last week when some websites and online content were blocked at a time of crisis, when floods hit the region."

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