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Macedonia. Editor of daily removed for political reasons

Mr Zoran Dimitrovski is accused of “manipulation”. His crime: to also represent the point of view of the opposition. Awaiting the new media law

“You’re enacting a political manipulation. Your opinion columns are not professional.” With these words, on Thursday, February 13th, 2014 Mr Minco Jordanov, the publisher, has removed Mr Zoran Dimitrovski from the direction of Nova Makedonija, one of the most important Macedonian dailies. The incident caused a sensation because a few days before Parliament had approved a new media law created to offer greater protection to freedom of expression.

Mr Dimitrovski is 49 years old and has behind him a thirty-year career in journalism. He also teaches at the School of Journalism in Skopje. His removal is part of a strategy of favours and threats that produce an intertwining of political, economic and editorial interests.

The OECD representative on Freedom of the Media, Ms Dunja Mijatović, who visited Skopje just last week, has used Twitter to define the dismissal of the director of Nova Makedonija “worrying”.

“I am a political analyst. Every Saturday – Mr Dimitrovski tells Ossigeno – I published a opinion column. My fault was to also describe the point of view of the opposition. The owner of the newspaper challenged just a few specific paragraphs”.

Mr Dimitrovski did not understand if he will continue to write for Nova Makedonija, for he still hasn’t received a notification from the publisher: “I do not know if they want to fire me or allow me to continue to working as a reporter. As far as I am concerned, I am willing to stay only if I’m allowed to continue to do my work honestly, that is to provide my readers with a comprehensive policy analysis.”

Meanwhile, the day after the removal, Nova Makedonija has justified the incident by communicating that the director was removed because of his “manipulations”.

POLITICS AND BUSINESS – The newspaper’s publisher, Mr Minco Jordanov, founded a party last year (Civil Alliance for a Positive Macedonia) that does not have a clear position on the conservative government of Mr Nikola Gruevski: “Mr Jordanov is the richest man of Macedonia. His movement is a centrist one – Mr Dimitrovski explains – but it is not yet clear whether it will stand for or against the governing party. Mr Jordanov must have been forced to remove me: if you wants to continue doing his business, he must not give voice to the opposition, and his own party cannot take a stance against the government.”

The other message, according to Mr Dimitrovski, is that “if journalists do not want to have problems, they must shut their mouths: whose in power retaliated against me because I defended Mr Kezarovski (the reporter who was jailed last year)”.

For Ms Tamara Chausidis, president of the Independent Trade Union of Journalists, and who was fired in 2011 from a private TV channel after receiving threats related to her trade union activities, the removal of Mr Dimitrovski “proves the power of control of the government over information. According to the media law that has just been approved, journalists should not be punished for their opinions. But this law is merely a façade. The former director of Nova Makedonija offered a political analysis. It was not him in person to line up against the government, and yet he has been accused of being a manipulator: a very serious offense for a professional. The new media law – Ms Chausidis concludes – will not change the atmosphere of -self censorship in which the Macedonian journalists are forced to work.”

DF

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