B92 expects government's reaction to Gasic's statement
B92 strongly condemns Defense Minister Bratislav Gasic's statement in Trstenik that he "so likes these journalists who kneel this easily."Source: B92
Gasic, in this way, insulted not only journalist Zlatija Labović, whom he referred to, and not only her professionalism.
Gasic's statement was not even only sexist, although he undoubtedly insulted all women.
B92 believes that the Commissioner for Equality, as well as the Coordinating Body of the Government for Gender Equality, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Zorana Mihajlovic, will have something to say about it.
Therefore Gasic's apology is not and cannot be sufficient - regardless of how good it is that it occurred and was unconditional, with the minister making no attempt to justify himself, as there is simply no justification for his gesture.
It is not enough, because Gasic was not merely being insulting. Minister Bratislav Gasic presented a clear political stance. His message said what position of journalists he personally, his ministry, and the government he is a member of, find acceptable.
Journalists are acceptable while kneeling in front of the executive power, while removing themselves from the cameras so that not even their backs are visible while ministers speak. They are acceptable while they are not asking questions. And such a political stance cannot be made right by any apology.
The consequences that the minister will suffer because of his political opinion will answer the question about the nature of the rule of this government, and about whether the attitude of Minister Gasic is a political position shared by the government he is a member of.
B92 recalls that the state is under obligation to foster the right to freedom of expression, which includes creating a favorable atmosphere for the work of journalists. The least it can do is to ensure that holders of public authorities respect the integrity of journalists and their work, bearing in mind the social importance of this profession.
Lastly, B92 pointed out that Serbia is a country where at least one journalist comes under attack each month, at least two journalists have police protection due to their threatened safety, where threats and pressures against journalists are almost a daily occurrence, and insulting journalists becomes the behavior of everyone from football coaches to government representatives.
In such an atmosphere, the least that is needed is for senior officials to further complicate this difficult situation with their tactless and uncivilized statements.
B92 therefore urges the government of the Republic of Serbia to distance itself from the statements of its minister and in the future do everything so that government officials treat journalists with the respect they deserve, adding that journalists are not and never will be "obedient puppies of the authorities" but aare truly "watchdogs" of democracy, human rights and public interest.