In the area of the European Union and the Balkans, Serbia and Montenegro are in the bottom three when it comes to freedom of the press, according to a statement by Pavol Szalaj, representative of the non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Szalai, head of the EU and West Balkans Desk at the RSF, said media freedom in Serbia was riddled with issues, highlighting impunity as one of the larger ones. He went on to list verbal and political assaults on media outlets, the harassment of media outlets by state institutions, and a large number of insufficiently investigated violent incidents as other major problems.
Szalai told the Voice of America late on April 22 that, despite certain strides, overall freedom of the press in Serbia had worsened in comparison to the last World Press Freedom Index report, and that political will to protect journalists still remained absent.
Of Montenegro he said that state institutions did not protect journalists fully and said it was "definitely necessary" for Montenegro to improve the state of the freedom of the press if it wanted to join the EU.
In the recently released annual RSF report on freedom of the press worldwide, Serbia is described as a country where the "fight against impunity continues," and has retained its 93rd spot among 180 of the world's countries. At number 104, Montenegro is described as a country of "dubious justice" and "problematic legislation." The report's section on EU member Bulgaria, 112th on the list, is titled "press freedom trapped."