Improvement of media sector important for progress towards EU

PODGORICA, 11 September 2017 – An expert mission on the freedom of expression and the media is staying in Podgorica from 11 to 14 September. During the mission, the experts will discuss with representatives of Montenegrin institutions, the media, operators, regulators, NGOs and the academic community about the legal framework of the media policy and its enforcement, copyright laws, state aid, mechanisms for developing and supporting the media, public services, journalistic integrity, self-regulation and media literacy.

The expert mission has been organised within a joint project between the European Union and the Council of Europe titled “Strengthening Judicial Expertise on the Freedom of Expression and the Media in South-East Europe (JUFREX)”.

“Freedom of speech is a vital element in the EU integration process,” says the EU Ambassador in Podgorica, Aivo Orav, adding that “powerful, coherent and effective self-regulation is the best way to protect press freedom”.

Ambassador Orav emphasised that free and critical reporting represents one of the main characteristics of a free and democratic society, but also stressed the need for media accountability, strengthening self-regulatory bodies and ensuring the effective application of the Code of Ethics.

Montenegro is the first country in the enlargement region where a media-sector inquiry is being launched. In this way Montenegro can again be a good example to be followed by other countries in the region,” said Orav.

Within the project, the experts will have 30 meetings with representatives of 18 Montenegrin institutions. The Minister of European Affairs, Aleksandar Pejovic, expects the project to produce a quality report as a result, as well as the Guide for the Regulation of Media Policy that will be important for further progress in Chapter 10: Information Society and the Media and Chapter and 23: Judiciary and Fundamental Rights.

“Montenegro is aware of the current challenges but also is dedicated to working together on the effective implementation of the commitments that will bring our media sector closer to European standards and will also contribute to the fulfillment of the benchmarks in Chapter 23: Judiciary and Fundamental Rights,” said Pejovic.

The minister expects the experience of the experts to contribute to the perception of the media market, the legislative framework, the media and the public service, the Support Scheme, media transparency, self-regulation, the integrity of journalists and a number of other issues of importance for this area.

The head of the Department of the Media and Internet in the Directorate General of Human Rights and the Rule of Law of Council of Europe, Lejla Dervisagic, has announced that the experts staying in Montenegro are well acquainted with the situation on the ground. Dervisagic stressed the importance of the participation of all institutions and individuals who will enable the implementation of the analysis, which is a joint venture, to be fully rounded, since its goal is a proper functioning of media, and it therefore affects the entire society in the context of EU accession.