The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), strongly criticises recent comments made by the Prime Minister of Albania, Sali Berisha, against journalists.

According to information before SEEMO, on 18 March 2008, Berisha insulted journalists during a government meeting that was not only carried out in front of reporters, but also broadcast live on television. The Prime Minister was commenting on coverage of an explosion that occurred in Gerdec, near Tirana, on 15 March 2008, and repeatedly referred to journalists as “mercenaries of the mafia.”

“We deeply criticise these events and this manner of communication,” said SEEMO Secretary General, Oliver Vujovic, “particularly when it is carried out by public authorities.” Vujovic continued: “SEEMO calls for and strongly supports the maintenance of a respectful environment for journalists and media in Albania, as in every other country, as such an environment is the cornerstone of a true democracy.”