"Proof needed for claims of media freedom violations"

EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn says he is aware of the allegations of violations of media freedom in Serbia, but that such claims must be supported by evidence.

Source: B92, Tanjug

"I've often heard talk about violations of media freedom in Serbia, and always ask for proof, because rumors are not enough," Hahn told a group of journalists in Brussels on Monday.

The Austrian who is in charge of EU's neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations added he was aware of a Reporters Without Borders report about the deterioration of the media situation in Serbia, but was "not clear on what basis such a conclusion was made."

"That is no proof. I need to see based on what criteria they produce these assessments," said the EU commissioner.

Hahn praised the agreement on the judiciary initialed last week during the Brussels-based Belgrade-Pristina talks, as well as Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic's presence at the inauguration of Croatia's new president.

"That gives a very positive signal about reconciliation and efforts to build a common future, because that is what is ahead of us," he said.

Hahn said that "negative tendencies are often emphasized in Brussels" - but that he believes one should not lose sight of the positive things such as those he mentioned.

Hahn will on Tuesday travel to Skopje and Pristina and hold meetings with political leaders there.

Vucic and Hahn recently met in Brussels after EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic on two occasions criticized the Serbian prime minister and his government, first over the harsh words he had for the partially-EU funded publication BIRN, and then because of the treatment of Ombudsman Sasa Jankovic.

Vucic and Hahn after that meeting announced that "the recent disagreements between Belgrade and Brussels" had been left behind.


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